As promised in my last post, this months post is devoted to a new drawings series that I began during the workshop I taught in Torrey, Utah with artist friend, Jeff Juhlin. I continued to work with these drawings through subsequent travels and at home during the months to follow.
I should mention that my previous feeble attempts at drawing the Torrey landscape from life were just horrendous. Whenever I try to control anything I do in the art making process, it turns out to look contrived and just awful. This landscape is especially overwhelming, wherever you look there is something inspiring, something as an artist I wanted to capture and hold. I couldn’t do it by just doing it, I had to invent a process.
The focus of the workshop was making marks inspired by hikes through this amazing landscape and then translating those marks to encaustic paintings. One of our mark-making exercises was to collect items from the landscape that could be made into brushes or other types of mark-making tools. We then dipped these brushes and tools into Speedball Super Black India ink and made marks in response to meditations and sketches from our hikes. Working in my favorite 6×6 Stillman & Birn, Zeta series sketchbook**, I took a slightly different approach and instead made marks that loosely followed the contour of the landscape as I observed it through the studio window as well as from my sketches made on our hikes. These contour marks along with the brushes that made them are below.
I liked the marks I had made but I felt that something more was needed so I just started working back into them and responding to the marks with two of my favorite drawing pens..a Pilot G-Tec-C4 for thin lines and a small size Faber Castell Pitt artist pen for thicker lines. The results are so complex and full of life! I love that these drawings are made with a combination of my hand and the actual landscape itself. Unbelievably, through this simple process I arrived at drawings that look like what I had been trying to capture in those first unsuccessful drawings from life…and I got there through process and giving up a bit of control…two techniques that I constantly have to remind myself (and my students) to employ in the work.
These drawings are immensely gratifying, meditative and I just love the results. People I’ve shown them to ask me what I’m going to do with them and I haven’t really decided. I’m thinking that making them on larger sheets of paper might be an idea or using them somehow in my paintings might be another. Right now, I’m just going to focus on making more of them.
If these posts about Torrey, Utah have inspired you, you are in luck because Jeff Juhlin and I will be teaching in Torrey together again in August, 2017. Visit the updated blog post for details about this exciting workshop. If you are interested, you had better hurry…there are only 2 spots left!!
For even more inspiration, view two other posts on Torrey here and here. To learn more about employing process in your own work, see notes from a talk I gave last year at the International Encaustic Conference here. For more inspiration on lines, see this post here and follow my Marks Pinterest board here.
**I LOVE this sketchbook! Thick, quality paper that holds water media, ink, etc. and stays flat, without any curling or buckling. It’s very sturdy, stayed intact through six months of travel and many hikes. Get one, especially if you like to sketch in any kind of water media!