Friday, September 9, 2011

Chautauqua Redux

Uploaded another set of sketches from wandering around the pastures of Western New York. A few were already in the Picasa web album (click link or on one of the images in the slide-show over on the top right-hand column to explore some more - there are multiple galleries under the menu), but while culling through the archives in advance of the move, these had fallen through the cracks as it were.

More below the fold... 

All were penciled out on-site: guess that's be "en plein air." As if I didn't already look like some dumb hick just standing around in a cornfield staring at barns (helps to sport a beret). Sketched in a 6x8" drawing pad, and worked up afterwards with Microns and an occasional touch of wash.

These stand in contrast to the usual nonsense that accumulates in my doodle-pads as a sort of running commentary on situations and scenes (see 2009 and 2010 posts). At least once a day when traveling it's good to stop for a bit and connect with wherever you're at: focusing in on the simple observations that would normally be overlooked.

It also helps with residual memory and recalling elements that will percolate back up into pieces later on down the road.

Every so often there's a bonus natural history lesson, a genealogical aspect, or some insight on biology with a plant or animal. Sense of place is inextricably intertwined with the people that inhabit a region. Sometimes I become peripherally aware of a peculiar mental bifurcation as I work: the detached, objective perspective of an observer who isn't quite a part of the picture.  

I'm literally drawn to structures of antiquity and textural richness: sketching in a different, tighter style can be a paradoxically refreshing break from most of my cartoons that head off in the opposite direction of looser and simpler drawings.

At best each extreme informs the other, a balance is struck and an amalgamation occurs. This isn't ever a consciously directed goal, but arises over time, like most things in Life is better seen, if not understood, in retrospect.

Another by-product of maintaining a visual log, above and beyond the aesthetic reflex of constantly being aware of whatever it is you see (like a superimposed filter), is creating that space within which to work regardless of circumstance.

That's a habit I try and instill my students with: amidst the course load of any given semester, carving out a buffer-zone is a crucial skill that translates into "real world" experience. In other words, it works in the classroom, home, workplace... anyplace at any time, with whatever is at hand.

"Don't just take pictures - make them."

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