September 8, 2014

A New Group of Small Drawings

sd 9, egg tempera on hand toned paper, ca. 7 x 7 in.

Of the several bodies of work that I produce––paintings, drawings, cardboard prints, boxed paintings, textiles, hooked wool drawings––there are two that fill me with intense doubt: the potato prints and this relatively new group of small drawings (You can see the first 8 pieces I did here.)  I am working somewhat against my sensibility with these, a sensibility more at home with the clarity of geometry and a precisely defined structure. Yet at the same time I'm intrigued by the possibilities of fluidity and improvisation; I feel I should stretch my comfort zone and keep going, and maybe something will come of it. I prepare the papers at the same time as I prepare the paper for my larger drawings, but I approach the task with more openness, working with brushmarks and layering of color. The violet pigment was acting strangely when I was toning this piece of paper: it kept globbing up, but I decided to just work with it. When I came to add some paint to it, I made just three small lines of violet, similar yet a little different from the irregular marks of violet on the paper's surface.

sd 10, egg tempera on hand toned paper, ca. 7 x 7 in.

Okay, I say to myself, you can also be a painterly painter if you want to I prepared some papers with very visible brushwork, creating space and composition. I made very minimal additions to these papers, intending them to be quiet remarks.

sd 11, egg tempera on hand toned paper, ca. 7 x 7 in.

For some reason, this toned paper asked for a small volume floating on its surface.

sd 12, egg tempera on hand toned paper, ca. 7 x 7 in.

Although it is dark, this paper has a sparkly surface because I used a pigment called Iron glimmer. The dark red lines that I added with paint tended to sink into the surface, so I glazed them with a couple of layers of the egg medium to make them shinier.

sd 13, egg tempera on hand toned paper, ca. 7 x 7 in.

I sit looking at the paper for a long time before I touch my brush to the surface: what to do, what to do? I am never sure that what I choose to do makes sense, but here I was thinking about emphasizing the diagonal mark of the brush.

sd 14, egg tempera on hand toned paper, ca. 7 x 7 in.

In sd 14 I added five little blobby lines; the other lines were from toning the paper.

sd 15, egg tempera on hand toned paper, ca. 7 x 7 in.

For some reason it is very difficult to photograph reds, and the red center with its green border may not be very accurate as to color. I chose to emphasize the squarish opening with a linear square, then added a glazed square on top of it; it changes color and value depending on the position of your eye.

sd 16, egg tempera on hand toned paper, ca. 7 x 7 in.

One small addition in paint: a blue rectangle, off center, its solidity making it appear to float over the transparent ground. I sometimes feel as though I'm floating far from solid ground while I work on these small drawings, but I suppose that as long as they interest me, no matter their quality, I will keep making them; uncertainty can be a good thing.


  1. Replies
    1. That's interesting, Lisa; because of the texture perhaps.

    2. Texture and the placement of the different colors.

  2. Love these. So much depth and color. Simple and yet subtle nuances.

  3. This comment has been removed by the author.

  4. Just 'discovered' Arthur G. Dove. Any thoughts on his work? These sd's are similar.

  5. Thank you, Melissa and JBS.
    I like Dove; his watercolors are rich and beautiful. They are very much nature-based so I don't think of my drawings in relation to his work.

  6. Wow, this is a rich blog. I'm only starting to dig into it and see the amazing variety of your artwork. Wonderful photos.

    1. Thank you, Jeffrey, for the kind comment, and also the wonderful comments left on another post.