November 23, 2014

Four (or maybe three) New Drawings

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

When I began this group of drawings, I was thinking of the subtleties of James Bishop's paintings, which I wrote about here; it would be an interesting challenge to myself to try to work in a restrained range of color. I began by toning this paper with layers of phthalo blue and a burnt sienna; the visual mix was a varied gray. I moved from blue to yellow in the semi-circular shapes; they are not pure hues, but are mixed with color opposites to gray them. 

#41 detail

In this detail you can see how the overlapping shapes create new darker shapes between them. It's always interesting to see what will appear during the process of the drawing.

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

This is the most subtle of the drawings with yellow on yellow. I had to restrain myself from putting more layers of paint on the shapes; I wanted the drawing to be hardly there. 

#42 detail

The translucency allows for new shapes to come forward where shapes overlap.

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

The "maybe three" refers to this drawing. I had tossed it aside, feeling very uncomfortable with those big circles which had too many allusions, but then just as I was about to tear it up a few days after making it, I stopped: hmmm....maybe it's not so awful. You can put in your two cents about it, whether like or dislike; I'd be interested to know.

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

James Bishop said in an interview, to explain why he began to work solely on paper, "you surprise yourself more often on paper". That was very true with this drawing. In the study for this work, I had three adjacent hexagons, and one overlapping in the center. I began with violet, blue, and green hexagons, then painted a yellow hexagon over them for the center shape. What appeared was not at all what I had expected: it was an illusionistic cube.

#44 detail

When I saw this I realized that this sacred pattern is the template for tile work of three dimensional cubes extending outward; traditional quilts use a similar pattern, although the template is different. It's fascinating that some patterns appear in different cultures separated by time and distance, as though they were hardwired into human consciousness.


  1. I like all of these! And am especially engaged by #43. The bold forms create such a dynamic contrast to that gorgeous washed background. Reminds me of Klee.

  2. I'm with Julie.
    The compass rose is a great armature...and always a surprising miracle of perfection.

  3. Thanks so much for the supportive comments, Julie and JBS.

  4. Beautiful works. I'm drawn to #41 after a day of work--looking at it, I feel calmed. #43 is forthright, in-your- face, beautiful, alluring. There is room for that in our universe.

    1. Thanks for the feedback, James. It's helpful to have friends give me their input. I guess I won't tear up that drawing after all.