sd 1, egg tempera on hand-toned paper, ca. 7 x 7 in.
I recently described myself as having a bad case of "multiple art personality disorder". My mind feels restless and open, enjoying the pursuit of new ideas. Actually, the idea for these small drawings has been percolating for a couple of years: I had a few pieces of rectangular parchment, on which I painted a couple of simple shapes, small and floating within a larger emptiness, inspired by Tantric drawings. Last year I did the same on pieces of toned paper, similar to the ones I am showing you now, but I just sat on the idea and didn't pursue it because I felt very uncertain about them. Well, I finally decided to tone a bunch of small pieces of paper, left over from tearing down sheets for my larger drawings; I prepared them at the same time as I did the paper for my most recent drawings. As I was painting the papers I was aiming for a variety of colors and surfaces, some with layered color, some transparent with brushmarks showing. I allowed a lot of accident, with puddling of color and inconsistent variations. (I describe the making of the hand-toned papers in this blog post.)
Then the big question was what to paint on them. I wanted them to have small shapes floating within the space of the paper; I thought of Tantric art and also the watercolors of Richard Tuttle. I began with sd 1 as I had with the similar work I'd done previously, by painting shapes on the paper, the larger square on the left, and two smaller ones at right.
sd 2, egg tempera on hand-toned paper, ca. 7 x 7 in.
Then I thought about what I was doing and realized that just arbitrarily putting down shapes was the wrong way to go about it. I determined to look at the paper, to pay attention to its color, its shapes, and to see in the paper what to paint on it. So I looked at this deep blue and purple paper with its vertical darks and felt it needed a simple vertical, one that started as a fine point and ended a little wider and rounded. It is a very light blue that hovers above the dark.
sd 3, egg tempera on hand-toned paper, ca. 7 x 7 in.
I love how this paper came out, almost like a violet and orange sunset. I painted a semicircular orange shape that repeated the rounded orange colors of the paper, and I added a small dot of red below it, giving it a tiny sliver of orange cradle below, hardly visible.
sd 4, egg tempera on hand-toned paper, ca. 7 x 7 in.
In sd 4, the brush had left an arc just below the center, and it looked to me that a sphere was perfect to nestle in that space. The dark curve above repeated a curve of the paper color.
sd 5, egg tempera on hand-toned paper, ca. 7 x 7 in.
This paper is quite different in that I kept the color very transparent and the brush especially fluid. It seemed to need a simple arc of a contrasting yellow-green.
sd 6, egg tempera on hand-toned paper, ca. 7 x 7 in.
sd 6 has some gold in the layering of pigment on the paper; the choice of the blue was for a color contrast. As for the shape of the cross, I was thinking of horizontal and vertical, two main earthly directions. I wasn't thinking of a religious symbol, though of course it's hard to remove those references.
sd 7, egg tempera on hand-toned paper, ca. 7 x 7 in.
This paper was prepared with gold pigment (not real gold), so it changes its appearance with different light sources. I added shapes following the direction of the brushstrokes with which the gold is applied.
sd 8, egg tempera on hand-toned paper, ca. 7 x 7 in.
Finally, a fairly dark paper on which I felt I wanted to keep the sense of dusk, so painted forms that don't float too far above the ground, being fairly dark in hue and though warm in color, not intense.
So....here I am, again with something new, again being very uncertain. There is something in the improvisational aspect of these drawings that is similar to the potato prints I've been making, which gives me a bit more confidence. I'm open to critique....