Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Time... and Time Again.

Just looking at older work, perhaps self portraits in particular, is often  somewhat strange. We have a mind's eye concept that persists for ages  until a time when life creeps up, wipes a slow hand over that image and makes you wonder where you've been.

The pencil portrait on the left pretty much meshed with my self concept for so long the mirror seemed immutable. Still a bit boyish in that drawing done at age sixty, I had an easy confidence in time's slow pace. While aware of ultimate mortality, it seemed so long too distant to matter but I've had a few too many reminders lately, - the deaths of old friends and colleagues who were much too young for that last occassion. Some are even now fitting foot to that proverbial banana skin.

Time matters!   For the most part,  I've tried to make it count.

This pencil portrait technique, tho' not exactly the same thing, came out of hours invested learning to draw with etching needles,  lithographer's crayons and then (again) with pen while pursuing my masters degree.  That pen, an earned favorite, was special.

Here on the right below is an early try at self portrait in ink, done well before my hirsute '"Hippie"days. There I am in 1966 suitably serious with my newly acquired Kohinor Rapidograph Pen. a beautiful black instrument looking much like the Classic Mont Blanc fountain pen but internally morphed directly from a technical draftsman's tool.  It could be quirky and temperamental, clogging almost every time used.  The later, newer ones seemed even worse!  They had to be dismantled, cleaned, refilled and re-started after each use.   I still loved them,  damned quirks and all!

I've included this early stab at self-portrature to demonstrate  progress over time. It takes practice to achieve a high skill level with any serious tool but once well used to the Rabidograph I produced a series of fine-hatched large (22x30) semi-surreal images that are included in good collections across the country and abroad.

Check the difference between the techniques in the ink portrait and the image below. They are worlds apart in quality! Sorry my color scan from a slide image is not the best, (Perhaps I can replace it later) but along with the close-up images below, you should have a fair idea of what the series was like.

Below left is a partial image, approximately one quarter of the 22x30 original.  On the right is an original size detail to give you an enlarged look at the hatching technique used. The image is on Arches Cover Weight, a print-makers rag paper,  a wonderful surface which works beautifully with the Rapidograph.  Even though these are 30 to 50 hour drawings, I loved the long hours building tone, texture and form. I enjoyed the repetitive strokes making marks add up to strong subject matter,  - Images consistent with my oft stated goal of objects interesting across the room and more interesting up close.

I want people to appreciate the actual work involved, the detail and texture, - the time spent as well as the "picture" itself.  Look at these side-by-side images.  On the left the original drawing,  - or  as much as would fit on the scanner,  - on the right an actual size "detail" where you can see the technique up close. I  haven't worked that way in a while but think I should give it a whirl again.  Y' think?

Hey, what do I have to lose? ... Life slips by, - well used or not!

"We work not only to produce but to give value to time."  Eugene Delacroix 

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