Raised Eyebrows

There have been many times when people looked upon me with raised eyebrows, if not utter disbelief. I am, of course, not only accustomed to it but somewhat proud of it, being an artist. If I never surprised or seemed a little off-kilter to anyone I would think it called into question my credibility as an inventive person altogether. So I’m happy to report that my assessment by others has been heavily salted and peppered with expressions of doubt, disdain or possibly, diagnoses of delirium.oil pastel drawing 1988The artwork above (four feet high, for your contextual reference) came from a period in my artistic development wherein I might have been forgiven for thinking there was a form of communicable facial paralysis among my contacts that left them all perpetually wearing masks of such disbelief. I had meandered through the three years following my undergraduate commencement, while working for my uncle’s construction company, barely producing a discernible body of small artworks the while, and still had opted to go off to graduate art studies. I had made a pitiful showing in my first quarter of work there, simply extending the slow, unproductive approach I’d had during the previous three years to cough up a tiny handful of pleasant but utterly unimpressive artworks without any particular evidence of having been changed or challenged by my reentry to the educational environment. But after the embarrassingly lackluster critique session that closed that quarter, I was perhaps uncharacteristically motivated to break out of the doldrums and sail in a new and more daring path, in hopes of visiting uncharted territories of worth.

Changing my approaches to media, techniques, subject matter, scale and speed, I found, all contributed to my discovering new sides of my artistic self. I became in some ways quite the opposite of the person I’d been previously in the studio, and while I never lost my love for the various characteristic media, techniques, etc, etc, that had defined my former self, I certainly never regretted having broken the mold I’d set that self in so firmly. An inordinate number of options and opportunities previously hidden from me by my insular fear and ignorance and self-imposed narrowness of intent and expectation suddenly seemed both possible and appealing, and I have continued to gallop around after them with abandon, sometimes with a hint of obsession and often quite tangentially, so I’ve grown to simply expect the raised eyebrows around me and relish the thought that they mean I’ve not settled too far into my former predictably fixed self again.

That, I think, is encouragement enough to keep me moving forward.

Stained Glass & Malachite

Being beautiful is such an ephemeral thing, to be sure. Making art that is beautiful is possibly even more so–after all, the same piece that appeals to one might hardly appeal equally to all, any more than the attractions of any one person might strike any others in precisely the same way. And our own tastes and interests and circles of friendship and acquaintance change so much over time that it’s a miracle if we even maintain contact, let alone a closeness or deep appreciation of each other and our various works and features over any period of time.digital illustrationCase in point: my playful attempts to learn the use of some digital tools for artwork, combined with the way that I tend to recycle my sketches and drawings, has altered both my perception of what I would keep, revise and/or rethink my own pieces to a pretty radical extent in the last few years. I believe that my overall style or the signature character of my art has remained fairly steady and therefore recognizable since it began to emerge some years back, but the tools and techniques with which it’s expressed have mutated enough to bring out some entirely different aspects of texture, complexity and even subject matter. The eccentric character in today’s illustration, for example, started out as a rather typical (if not stereotypical) caricature of a semi-human man who differed little in form from the sort of goofy fantasy creatures and people I’ve drawn for years just to entertain myself, but suddenly when I was playing with the sketch, coloring it in digitally as though I were a little kid with a digital coloring-book, he started to become something entirely different and new, a creation slightly unlike all that have come before him.

Now, because I am both unscientific and forgetful when I am immersed in amusing myself with art, I will probably never be able to replicate precisely the process that led to his looking like a hybrid of a stone-inlay project and a leaded window made of art glass. And though I like the effect and hope I can do something similar again if I work hard enough–especially if I want to make what in my own estimation is a sufficiently prettier character to warrant such a highfalutin treatment–it will hardly be the end of the world if he ends up being my only-ever stained glass and malachite creation. Being unusual and a little bit strange is just something we’ll have in common.

Mother & Child

graphite drawing + digital colorLullaby for Spring

Sleep, my sweet, my lovely one,

From dusk until the rising sun

Paints morning roses blushed with dew;

Let comfort bless the night, and you,

Awaking, bless with joy the ray

That, opalescent, breaks this day.digital image

He Cracked a Wicked Little Smile . . .

 

graphite drawing

. . . as he was hatching his plots . . .

Quack Quack, Etc.

There’s nothing adverse

That I throw in the sauce

As I start to rehearse

The demise of the Boss

But as I descend

To the end of the day

It’s more tough to pretend

To be lightsome and gay

When I feel in my marrow

The building of rages

Brought on by the narrow-

Ness by which he gauges

My quest for perfection

In service to him

Whose extreme predilection

For being quite grim

As you guess is a needle

To nag and annoy

Like the high nasal wheedle

Of a self-centered boy

Until something explodes

In the back of my brain

At some one of his goads

And I go quite insane

So I must kill him gladly

By end of the day

And go off quacking madly

As I’m carted away

Where Carryings-on could Lead to Carrion

digital illustrationSaturday Night Study Group

Lo, the lazy morning passes,

Finds the weary lads and lasses

Still abed, or on their asses,

Half awake and half a-snore,

‘Mid detritus of the pizza,

Hot wings, chips and other treats a

Sober student seldom eats, a-

Strewn in heaps upon the floor–

Partied late; what was it for?

Shattering the blissful quiet

Suddenly, a loud impiety

Is screamed and starts a riot

Right among the corpse-like corps:

All a-scramble, grabbing trousers,

Shirts and shoes, these late carousers

Start remembering the wowsers

Of the night they’d passed before,

Though recall was rather poor–

Finally, wakening more fully,

One of them, if somewhat dully,

Crawled across, his brain still woolly,

To fling wide the knocked-on door

And reveal the dawning horror

Come to waken every snorer,

Standing, looking faintly, more or

Less, like someone seen before–

Somehow shook him to the core–

Ay! It’s Mother stands there staring,

Arms akimbo, nostrils flaring,

Challenging his story, daring

Him amain: Explain this war!

What’s this wreckage, who these bodies

Strewn among the butts and toddies,

Some dressed only in their naughties,

Covered all in festive gore?

He stood gawping, nothing more.

In the cursèd silence stretching,

From a distance came a retching

Sound and instantly, all fetching

Up as though a manticore

Chased them out of their reclining,

They responded to this shining

Call and left the poor repining

Lad, with Mother, at the door,

Beast and trembling matador.

Dust now settling, son and mother

Gazed intently on each other,

Understood this bit of bother

Must be rectified, the score

Evened out: this was the chore.

Mother, calm now and quite cool,

Explains to him that, while in school,

Her son shall still observe the rule

Of sober thought. The lad’s encore:

Will I party? Nevermore!

(And means well, just as before.)digital illustration

Uninformed, or Old and Infirm?

 

Or just uniformly old?

Does it matter? Not much; never mind. As it happens, I was a little hazy to begin with, so there’s not much worry about the old marbles disappearing. Who really needs marbles anyway, except for a game-playing champ or, say, Michelangelo. For me, the touch of lunacy just adds a little color and a lively element of surprise to my everyday existence.pen & ink

Scaredy Coot

My fears are principally these:

Of sharks, the dark; of killer bees;

Of speeding cars and drunken louts

That race them through the roundabouts;

Bloodsucking leeches; of the kind

Of beasts that populate my mind

In doctors’ offices; of tests

That only earn me second-bests;

And most of all, I fall in tears

Lest someone should unmask my fears!

 

What I See is What I Get

acrylic mural on a wall (6 ft H)My Hero, My Self

The guide to my path,

The lamp to my feet,

My counselor, guru,

Informer, my sweet

Intelligent tutor,

My rescue, my hope—

Too bad you are Me,

You poor pitiful dope.

In Search of Tech-Know Progress

 

colored markers on paperWhen I post drawings, they almost always require a digital tweak or ten to be clean and sharp enough for putting up on view. Most of the time, it’s merely the need for getting rid of visible dust and scratches or evening out the tone across the piece to more accurately reflect the appearance of the original, stuff like that. Even a direct high-definition scan doesn’t eliminate all of the little oddities.

No doubt there are endless ways to do what I do to the images much more simply and cleverly and efficiently. But having as little technological skill and wisdom as I have, I must content myself with doing in a hundred steps what others can do in ten. At least until I have the time, the money and the gumption to get the necessary education, anyway.

Still, slow and ambling and rambling as I am, I get the occasional urge to mess around with the existing drawing and manipulate it further digitally. Silly, yes, given that it takes me eons to do the first drawing part and a multitude more ages to do anything further via the digital medium. But you know how these things are: inspiration or perspiration, it’s all a command one has to obey once the Muse prods me in that direction. Here’s last night’s drawing (above), followed by the series of phases I put it through today. That is all. For now.digital image

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The Insomniac

P&I drawingR.E.M.

Under a slab

Of cement I sleep,

Wilderness heavy,

Sorrow deep;

Sorrow deep,

Archaeology old,

Running through

Corridors untold—

Racing the hallways

Of my dreams,

Ankles shackled,

With muffled screams;

With throttled throat,

I strive to wake,

Covered in cobwebs

I cannot shake;

Cobweb-bound,

Imprisoned in doom,

Under concrete,

In the dreamer’s tomb.