June 1, 2014

Four New Drawings

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

I enjoy surprises when I'm working, especially if they arise from frustration. When I was preparing the paper for this new series of works, I had some trouble getting color I was happy with. With #35, I started with a violet, but somehow it wasn't working, so I did something I didn't usually do, I layered another color, an earth red, on top of it. It became a small lightbulb moment: ah hah! I can mix colors one on top of the other for the tone; I do not have to use only one color. The results are less predictable, but very interesting and rich. 

#35 detail

The image in this piece was also a surprise, and it stopped me from going further. When I had painted the four circles––two light and opaque, and two darker and more transparent––a rounded cross of sorts appeared, something I'd not expected. I had planned to add another element, but those central shapes said no. 

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

This piece proceeded in a more straightforward way, with a single color for the paper, and a range of values of green for the shapes. The thing that did surprise, as often happens with these drawings, is the way the shapes enclosed by the painted shapes take on importance. In this case, the two elongated, pointed ovals in the center keep staring at me from under their veil.

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

The white forms began as flat shapes in my mind and on my study, but as I painted the first layer of transparent white, in which I followed the form of what is a vesica piscis, I was surprised and intrigued by their strange illusion; strange in that the center of the form, showing more dark, can be seen as depressed as easily as raised. 

#37 detail

So instead of painting more layers across the form so as to flatten it, I continued to work with the volumetric idea, an idea that wouldn't have occurred to me to try unless I came across it by chance.

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

The color of the paper on this final drawing went through the same process as the first: I started with one color, a red, wasn't satisfied; thought I'd try some gold for fun, but it was too strong; put several layers of transparent red on top of the gold. Now there's a definite shimmer to the paper, and it changes in different light, but it isn't too overwhelming. The colors of the shapes, the red and green being fairly opaque, give a sense of solidity on the more airy red/gold ground. There are always new lessons to be learned if we're only open to them.


  1. Your drawings on hand-toned paper have given me so much joy over the months. I hope someday there might be a book collecting these quietly powerful images.


  2. I find these reserved works of yours have the richness of some magnificent Tantric works on paper I've seen. They are deeply satisfying and thought-inspiring.

  3. The reds are so rich in the layered piece. I just love the perceived simplicity of these although I know that they are not, in fact, simple at all.

  4. Thank you so much, Sky and Roberta. I think of Tantric drawings a lot, though these are based on Islamic/sacred design. For me, it is fascinating to work on them.