Category: drawing

First place

elliottbsj300

Above an image of “Barn and Mist,” which I submitted to this year’s LandMark competition at Arts of the Albemarle in Elizabeth City.  Gimlet-eyed readers will recognize a detail of the same as the main image of this blog.  It took first prize.

Many thanks to Darlene Tighe and Keli Hindenach, the gallery manager and excutive director who put on the event during the approach of the tropical storm and sometime-hurricane Hilene. Likwise to Munroe Bell who beat the storm in time to judge the work.

I have painted this region for almost a decade and have loved it even longer.  It was a delight to be in a room full of people who love it.

The picture is for sale at Arts of the Albemarle.  Call them at 252-338-6455. Armed with this and a few books by Bland Simpson, you’d be all set.  Or as they say in Northeastern North Carolina, you’d be right,  I reckon.

 

 

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Row on row

These are rows of grapes at the Addison Farms vineyard, whose owner, Jeff Frisbee has been kind enough to host  Wild Art 2016: the Art Show to Benefit Appalachian Wildlife Refuge on August 6 from 12noon to 5pm.  It all happens at 4005 New Leicester Highway, 15 minutes and a whole world northwest of Asheville, NCafrows

For some annual crops, at least, we shall see the row system, maybe even tillage itself, vanish in our lifetimes.  And good riddance, too.

Perennial crops, though, are another matter.  Since the earliest gardens in the Near East, rows and compass points have predominated.  There is something intrinsically reverent and hopeful about the conjunction of geometry, next year and fruit.

Where these things intersect, you can have a culture, because culture demands that someone see life on the side of order and not chaos.

addison01

The Vineyard.  Walnut ink on prepared paper.

Agriculture, culture, cult: these three perdure.

Vendange

Black walnut ink in Mason jars

Black walnut ink

I am now offering walnut ink for sale.  It has a rich warmth unmatched by other kinds of ink.

Grey Wolf

Grey Wolf.  Reed pen with walnut ink and wash.

I’m working on a full-service web outlet, which will be up and running by December 1st.

If you can’t wait, visit the Ink page on this site to reserve some.  I’ll ship it or you can pick it up.

Wide Open preview 3

Green Harmony

Green Harmony. Oil on panel. 18 x 34.” 

This painting grew from a sketch, a study and a rendered drawing.  I felt like a gardener before spring, transplanting little seedlings from pot to pot as I drew, measured, enlarged, and painted.  Each time, I trusted the image to materials I made myself.

It is satisfying to brew one’s own ink, cut panels, dissolve rabbit-skin glue and dust for gesso.  Taking handmade materials outdoors makes one look more acutely.  One of my teachers, Nathan Bertling, used to tell me, “If you love your paper, you’ll love your drawing.”  He meant that time spent in preparation makes for good execution.

Much is made these days of “plein air” painting, and often I’m asked, “Did you do that all plein air?”  To which I say “Harumph.  I was working before I went outside.”

 

Bunch's Garage

Bunch’s Garage. China ink. 3 x 6″

 

Study of Bunch's Garage

Bunch’s Garage, study. Walnut ink.  10 x 14″

 

large ink drawing

Bunch’s Garage, Large: detail

 

Bunch's Garage

Bunch’s Garage. Walnut ink. 24 x 36″

 

Wide Open preview 2: large drawing

Below is the 24 x 36″ large study I did for Harmony in Green, an early 20th-century auto garage in Edenton.  It will hang my solo show there on Dec 4.

In the Renaissance, most preparatory drawings for paintings were done in chalk.  This is a great way to indicate quickly where things go in the composition  Such drawings look like this one, which took about twenty minutes to do.  Chalk is smudgy for shadows and holds an edge for sharp lines; hence, one can capture a lot of information with it.

Figure study

Seated Figure. Sanguine chalk.

But to test out large blocks of light and shadow, one turns to ink.  Since we live  a century into the era of comics and posters, it’s nothing for us to look at a poster and register an image.  Most poster- or comic-style drawing, though, is a very efficient shorthand, which purposely omits reference to the third dimension.  If you were busy perceiving depth in a billboard, you couldn’t read that billboard while driving.  In short, what we spend in depth perception, we gain in information.  Non-realistic pictures are worth a thousand words, as marketers the world over agree.

Realism, though, is priceless.  Witness this gem from Luca Cambiaso (fl. 1550’s):

figure studies

Luca Cambiso. Figure studies. Ink

Yes, this is realism, albeit at its most stripped-down. No one doesn’t like these Renaissance robots.  Just the act of breaking these abstract figures up into front (lit) planes and side (shadow) planes gives them life.  This is simplicity: a little doing a lot can make for a monumental effect. If you remember Genesis 1–or any other creation myth, for that matter–you have already noticed that life will not go where there is no form.

So here’s the same treatment applied to a 24 x 36″ study of the building I’ve been working on.  A little doing a lot over two square yards.  The ink is walnut ink made from the bounty of North Carolina, and the pens used in the drawing are reed pens, just as Cambiaso used.

Bunch's Garage

Bunch’s Garage: large study. Walnut ink. 24 x 36″

 

Wide Open update and preview

First, I corrected the date given for my show in Edenton next month.  It is now to open on Thursday December 4th.  The time remains 5:30pm. The volunteers who run the Chowan Arts Council Gallery didn’t want the show to conflict with the lighting of the town Christmas tree.

Second–and as promised–another look at Bunch’s garage, which greets entrants into the town.  Last year I made the quick sketch of it in China ink, paying attention almost entirely to the shadows cast by the molding.  The building sports a certain posture despite its age, so I returned to the spot, this time to study the texture of the corrugated sheet-metal siding:

Study of Bunh's Garage

Bunch’s Garage, study. Walnut ink.

The rhythm of verticals in the building’s fabric makes a strong contrast to the contorted oak forms behind.  I chose a prepared paper to catch the sense of atmosphere that nourishes the trees and ages the building, because, for the time being, the structure’s age contributes to its dignity.  I also abandoned the brush, intending to suggest brittleness with the use of goose and steel pens.

Making a drawing out of a million tiny lines demands an upped tempo and a light touch at once.  It asks both draftsman and viewer to see with two faculties that our historical moment hates: aggression and restraint.