We have the capacity to be stewards of this Earth. I’ve been thinking about this a lot. And it may come out as an additional layer of meaning in some upcoming artworks. I love what I see at Antler PDX. Much of the artwork shown there speaks to me as commentary on our attitudes towards nature. I’m also an avid outdoors person. It pains me to see litter on a hiking trail. Why come out into nature and leave a trail of garbage behind you? I think about the ethics of farming. And why we are outraged at animal abuse but turn a blind eye to inhumane practices on factory farms. I don’t rant or lecture here. But as I work, I see traces of this story starting to manifest. Like in this detail of a new piece below.
I'm used to trying to create an exact likeness of my subject. Always with an end goal, an expectation in mind. Kind of stifles the creative process, doesn't it?
Enter Blane, a good friend of mine and entrepreneur. He was in a rut. He needed an outlet for a recent burst of creative energy. But he never really explored art other than as a spectator. I agreed to help him learn how to be a creator. We took these huge sheets of watercolor paper that I had. For subject matter, I took the skull of a buck and placed it on the kitchen table. I told him to draw, but he couldn't look down or care about the end result. I just wanted him to make a mark on that pristine white sheet without any fear.
I set the timer to ten minutes and joined him in the exercise. Why not. I needed to loosen up, too. We each sipped a little bourbon, and picked at a plate of sardines and crackers. I forget what kind of music was playing. Probably funk, or some Norwegian folk singer. It might have been Moddi.
Rebokk was still around. Old skinny cat checking us out. And it was February. Cold and the damp of the Jersey shore made the cold stick to your bones. For ten minutes, we were going to draw, and we weren't allowed to look and we weren't allowed to care. Those were the rules.
What we ended up with was a mess, each mess uniquely our own. While Blane started applying swashes of deep crimson (and some glitter) to his, I studied mine for a bit, It was chaos. Lines everywhere. Distorted. Wandering. Searching. But there was also some sense to it. The more I looked, the more I saw where I had been, when my eyes were traveling across the skull and transcribed the path to paper. I took some paint. Mixed a light earth tone. A bone color. And applied it to an area of several shapes, keeping some edges raw but finding a boundary in one of the lines and keeping that defined.
What happened there was the start of this theme. I thrilled at the exploded chaos of the initial drawing combined with the slower, more methodical process of developing a likeness by pulling out selected shapes and lines. It's a process that exhilarates and scares me at the same time. I like that. There's risk. There's the unexpected. I may choose the wrong shape or line. I have to think. But every time it teaches me something. It teaches me to let go.