These days, the feeling that I deserve to take time, get out and treat myself to a sweet, slowed-down day of drawing has become a scarce commodity. On those rare occasions, I feel I'm trying to sprint my way through a marathon. An urgent race to find a spot that says, ah, this is the place. Then rarely enough time to reference a sense of light before it changes. Not enough time to work a mark of paint, seeing it dry too soon as my strokes mock me like scars. Never enough time to finish before I'm squinting in the twilight, at a ghost of what attracted me in the first place. Faster, faster, paint faster!
As I scurry to relax, I think, if only I had more time. Grappling to embrace that feeling, long ago, of calm that once washed over me. Dripping, dabbing, scratching, blotting. Because this is it, my day to paint, I scramble to outrun the sun and produce something that will justify the time that has been graciously given. Inevitably to find the mountain has brought forth a mouse.
Woe is me, the tortured artist.
Then today, tucked away on a forgotten page, I came across this.
Don't get me wrong, it's no masterpiece. I can hardly express the disappointment I felt when my efforts on this one were exhausted. I still see a hurried, over-worked blob. It still looks desperate to me. I still remember what I hoped it to be. And it still does not feel worthy of the time spent.
I know it's not a bottle of wine, getting better with age. I'm sure the physical architecture has not shifted to compliment my sketch. I know the paint did not re-arrange itself into a better composition, or the colors become more true.
But, something changed. Maybe my eyes are going, maybe I'm just desperate to post something. But, I see something else there and I don't hate it so much anymore.
I makes me remember why I started painting in the first place. To relax. So, maybe now when I find the time, I will just paint. Not to justify time or feel accomplishment. Not to produce a painting, but just to be there, painting. That way, when something is finished, it's purpose will simply be to remind me of the day, where I was and what I was lucky enough to be doing. And if I am dissatisfied with the outcome of my time it won't be because I was rushed or felt pressured. I can just put it away for a while and peek back every couple months with new eyes. Agree to disagree with myself for the moment and consider that eventually, I may come around to a different perspective.
I am hopeful. Maybe, because I know nothing changed here. But, time.
It was a great privilege working with Danny and Tommy Kane. I was a bit nervous during the shoot, I'm far more comfortable on the other side of the camera. If you haven't already seen them, check out Danny's other films. Really cool stuff.
These were done late in November. Back when the air was merely brisk, well before it turned so bitterly cold.
This is the abandoned Grain Terminal in Red Hook. It is a wonderfully odd structure for NYC, with it's scores of soaring silos. I hope to do another from a closer vantage point. Intimidated by the rapidly changing water, I practiced with a little one first. It was done in my tiny Moleskine, the other in the larger book. I also found a photo taken from the smaller tower on the roof of the building. The arrow indicates my location, when the sketches were done.
The photo was not taken by me. It comes from this site:
Inspired by Stephen Gardner's masterful sketch of the same building, I made my way over to Red Hook yesterday to try my hand at this Brooklyn icon.
I may have to try again. Too caught-up in the details, I failed to capture this eccentric old lady. Hat's off to S.G.
On a side note; a friend sent me this link to a collection of travel sketches by John Fischetti. Fischetti was an illustrator for Esquire and the Chicago Sun Times, among others. I enjoyed seeing them. Hope you do too.
I have a regular appointment on Mondays near Union Square and I usually carry a 3x5 Moleskine with me. So, more out of convenience than design, here are two more quick sketches from that area. These are from last week.
Possibly through laziness and frustration, lately I have been working from photos.
I often see things I would like to draw at the most inconvenient times. I began carrying a small camera to grab a shot or two and got into the habit of keeping prints of these images in my sketch bag, just in case, on the day I set aside to draw, the weather, parking restrictions or my aging back prevented me from finding a suitable subject or vantage point. I found I could retire to a coffee shop or some other agreeable joint and draw from one of the photos.
Cheating, I know.
The odd part is that I found myself surrendering my searches for "live" settings earlier and earlier, knowing the photos and a comfy chair were at my disposal.
To my eye, when done in this manner, my drawings are different. I can't say better or worse, simply different. But the contrast, in the actual experience of drawing, is night and day.
The connection to the surrounding turf is severed by the photo. The acute sounds and smells I can later recall from an on-site sketch have a disjointed quality. Like poor phone reception the sense of being there, is muddled and interrupted. When all is done, pens and brushes stowed, and I am taking that last look around, there is none of that familiar satisfaction.
All this is to say, these two small sketches are all I can offer at the moment, as far as new work, done on sight.
"I'm a photographer and digital artist living in Brooklyn. Perhaps because I work in advertising where many hands shape my work, drawing is something I do for myself, like a meditation: sitting for long stretches of time, calmed by the varied forms, texture and fabric of the city and how they are changed and shaped by light. I appreciate the press of time and striving to keep my composure as the light rapidly changes, hoping to capture the small details without losing the overall mood. I aspire to be focused and open at the same time, constantly intrigued by what something actually looks like, as opposed to the idea of it in my head. I drew a lot as a kid, but lost interest for reasons I can't recall. A few years back I started drawing again with a pen and a sketchbook and have since been testing my hand at watercolor. Now, if I could, I would do little else."