Why show this? I don’t know. It was nothing more than me trying paraline perspective in a room in my dad’s home. I added my dad in the corner, but he’s not coming under the paraline rules, almost like an objective bystander. He’s an outsider, floating above the room, delineated by thick lines that no longer hold him together. Paraline, as a diagrammatic handling of reality, succumbs here to the standard rules of perspective, here and there, wherever I forgot the rigid rules. Theoretically, a paraline drawing can run forever, if you have enough drawing surface, like the diagrams in assembly instructions and eye trickery. I’d like to try this again and make it work this time.
Category Archives for: Memory
This is from pure memory, but what does that mean? To me, it could be something as simple as I got this out of my head. But since this is the way I always work, I know there are facets to it most of us take for granted. For example: This is a general memory from my dad’s living room, and there was no doubt a lamp where you see it, but if that lamp looked exactly like that one you see in the picture is highly doubtful. I had to make it up in most places because I simply do not recall. His face, on the other hand, is from whatever I could bring back from direct memory, which is also spotty. There are also points where this picture has taken embellishments because there comes a point to most paintings and drawings where you try to make it clearer or closer to the goal you set out for it.
Here’s a recent image I made on an acrylic skin using acrylics. It came from memory, but it might be more accurate to say I made it up. It started with the vague memory of my father taking my brother and I to a claustrophobic apartment where an old couple lived. The layout of the spaces was strange and uncomfortable. I remember the TV set in the middle of the room touching everything with it’s light. The memory is tinged with an all-pervading feeling that I don’t have a word for. And it was a moment that had been absent of conscious recovery for a long time until I started thinking about it once again when working on my father’s commemorative paintings last year. The memory is what I started with. However, this clouded thing is what turned up.
Here’s a recent drawing done in acrylic, with before and after shots. It’s a memory of my dad clowning around. When I draw from memory like this, it’s like attempting to take a snapshot of something that was never captured before. I don’t use reference of any kind. I’m just trying to tap into something that still resides in memory.
I like the earlier phase, and sometimes it’s difficult to determine if pushing it would ruin the freshness it seems to have. In this case, I’m not sure which I like better. Though there’s something fresh about the earlier phase, I almost always note that my earlier phases do not bring out the forms to the degree I usually desire.
The last time I was in Miami, I found some sketches in my mom’s garage, and they triggered the story behind a court case that happened over twenty years ago.
For two weeks, I was part of a jury on a heroine trafficking case. The police caught the defendants in a reverse-sting operation in New York City outside a Nathan’s. It was tried in Miami because the deal started there, if I remember correctly.
We weren’t supposed to talk about the case to anybody, including our fellow jurors. Fascinated by the tale being unraveled before us, I wanted to express it somehow and could only do it by taking my memories out of the courtroom and drawing them in my sketchpad during my lunch hour, and I suppose I wanted to use it (and notes I may have taken) for some future work that never came into being.
Our case ended in mistrial.
When you look at old artwork, you find that a novice’s ambitions (perhaps best left alone) coincide with the pleasant sensation of revisiting the novice’s stepping stones. You might recall when and where you did a certain drawing, raising strings of other memories that were somehow connected to this image. Sometimes the technique tells you something of what you were trying to do.
After exploring that clunky technique I had discovered by overloading my pen, I turned around and pursued the fine lines of a crowquill. This was the “style” that would stay with me for the next few years; though I had rejected the obligatory crosshatching of pen and ink just months before, here I was again brought in under its weave, and now with added facility.
Stuck on the thought of someday making it in comics, I was nurturing the idea that comics can be of all types and anything was possible. These notions were coming to me when all that could be reasonably expected from that era were superheroes done up in 64-color murk. Still, I insisted that someone could do something different, like rendering an entire comic in crowquill to be published in nothing but black and white. That was something I had never seen before, and I felt that there might be a place for something so groundbreaking. Looking back at this inchoate artwork, these revolutionary ideas with which I was filling my head may have had little to back them up. Naturally, I was blind to my own work. And even though I was aware of the limitations of the market, I wasn’t going to give up on these new ideas, these new inroads into comics that would be presented one day, even if not by me.
The story behind the page below is now gone to memory; it is not even a completed page. But I do remember some of the decisions made for this page, such as why I chose the angles and considerations around the bricks. On second thought, though I associate this page with a crowquill, a closer look at the marks tell me that it was likely done with a technical pen.
What is style and how do you aproach it? I wrestled with this question many years as an artist, without ever reaching an answer, though I went through countless permutations of what I gathered were different styles. As my memory holds it, the first time I consciously sought a stylized approach, I had been working in pen and ink for two years. I was in high school, taking fine art and commercial art classes, and I was getting tired of the crosshatching that we students expected with a pen. In manipulating the pen in different ways, I discovered a way of filling the pen with excess ink, and this gave a wet line that beeded on the paper surface. It was best when the ink was somewhat old in the bottle and in the process of coagulating. Instead of the scratchy feel, these lines glided and felt slippery, almost greasy. And the shading I pursued was a globby scribble, something you’d see in a woodcut though far more contrived and rough. Previous attempts at following a style were nothing more than aping a favorite artist, but this felt like I arrived at it on my own. After pursuing it for no more than several months, I went on to other styles, but this one influenced my idea of authorship over the look of a drawing – what I interpreted as your own personal style.
A couple of months ago, I was thinking about those old images, and I tried to emulate the style with a brush and some paint. In a similar way, I saturated the brush with paint that had the consistency of thick ink and developed the shiny lines I remembered from back in the day. There I was trying to form the memory of an image I had come up with all those years ago. Afterward, I compared the results with one of these old drawings from high school. You can compare the new painting with the original drawing below.
Not too long ago, my brother and I were talking about an adventure that we played during a Dungeons and Dragons session way back in high school. Such role-playing games were group activities that involved the authoring of this story by the input of the players and through the focus of the game master. During those times when I was the dungeon master, I would use my art skills to make drawings of scenes that the players would encounter (like the one above). However, most of our adventures had no such visual roadmaps, and the unfolding of the story had to rely on our imaginations, much like what happens when you’re reading a book. The difference was that it was more than one reader partaking in this narrative exercise. The uncanny part of this was that all these years later, my brother and I have talked about these adventures as if we had shared these experiences in reality, not unlike any one of our vacations trips. We were recalling that the poison vial stood left of the window which was hard to open, that the party of characters were trapped by the crowd on both sides of a street during the ambush, that the smell of a den just before a dangerous encounter reeked of boiled cabbage – and the details we shared in this mutual experience rarely ever contradicted.
In this space, I hope to bring up examples and ideas that relate to how we picture things in our minds. This pursuit comes from a long consideration of it in my own art, and I would like to share some of the thoughts I have had over the years.