June 4, 2013

Four New Drawings

#17, egg tempera and graphite on hand toned paper, 15 x 15 in.

A great pleasure for me in working on these drawings is in letting color fly free, detached from representation, as in my paintings on parchment. My first step is choosing colors for toning the paper; then I decide on which design among my studies will work best with that color, and then which colors to use. I had just bought a new pigment, Alizarin Crimson, so of course wanted to use it right away for the paper. I was surprised that mixed with a little Titanium white, it had an almost coral color, a warm pink, not the cool one I was expecting. Since green is the complement of red, the large hexagon is green. The circle, now appearing to be floating under a thin veil of green, was originally going to be a yellow circle on top of it. As I worked, the idea of the circle being submerged seemed much more expressive.

#18, egg tempera and graphite on hand toned paper, 15 x 15 in.

I prepared two sheets of paper in dark tonalities, two in mid tones. With this dark sienna pigment, like the earth it comes from, I chose colors related to landscape, a blue and a green, both mixed in less saturated hues so that they wouldn't bounce off the paper. As I work, I decide whether the color should be opaque or translucent, allowing some of the underlying drawing to show through. I have written about how these drawings, based on Islamic design, often feel uncanny to me, as though I'm not making the decisions, but that they are coming from a hidden source. I still feel that way from time to time, although I have gotten more used to their forms and demands. Sometimes a design asks to be opaquely painted, and sometimes thinly painted.

#19, egg tempera and graphite on hand toned paper, 15 x 15 in.

Yellow triangles, on a surface of blue-green, are translucent enough to allow a faint trace of drawing to show through. The arcs soften the severity of the forceful triangles, four within one.

#20, egg tempera and graphite on hand toned paper, 15 x 15 in.

A midnight blue holds within it rich colors, with a group of shapes that seem to me to be a female essence or symbol. The shapes in these images somehow add up to more than just formal abstractions, though through an agency not my own.


  1. Always fascinating to read about your process. In this series I am drawn to the dark sienna piece...not so much because you mention its relation to landscape, but more because of how its hidden aspects are incorporated.

  2. +++++++++++++ to the power of +

  3. Thanks so much, Julie and tony; your remarks are very much appreciated.