Art Writing “Looking and Contemplating”

Once again here I am sitting and contemplating my work that’s on my easel. I do that sometimes. I have three work stations in my studio. In the center and facing out the window is my drawing table. It’s working surface is 42×36 inches plus I have extensions built on either side of it that hold lots of drawing supplies. They hold mostly pens, pencils, and markers. The drawing table also has two lamps attached to it. A combo fluorescent and incandescent lamp and a fluorescent magnifying lamp. It’s a nice table. It’s also at standing height. I like to stand and work.

To the left of the drawing table and facing a wall is my computer. That is also at standing height so it sits on a large platform that I built on top of a counter. It’s a Mac Tower that’s twelve years old now (it’s from 2008) but it’s still going. I use it every day. It has a brand new 27 inch monitor attached to it as well as a really old 12×12 inch Wacom tablet. I think the tablet is older than the computer. The computer also has seven hard drives, three scanners, a trio of Harmon Kardon speakers, and a VCR hooked up to it. I can get stuff done with it.

To the right of my drawing table is my easel. When I graduated from college at Christmas time in 1988 I had no easel nor any money to buy one. So I decided to build one. Luckily I had some scrap wood lying around. Old 1x4s that were left over from some project. I cobbled together an easel out of them. I am still working on that easel in 2020. It’s not the most well crafted easel. It gets the job done but I’m no wood worker so it’s functional but not pretty.

It’s also not quite one hundred percent the same easel. When I originally built it there was a problem. The two main 1x4s were slightly warped. Whenever I put a canvas on them it never stayed flat. The upper right corner of the canvas was not flush against the easel. As I pressed against that top corner with a brush and paint the canvas would move, I always meant to fix it but instead put up with it for a decade. I’m not sure when but I think it was in the early 2000s that I finally replaced those two pieces of wood with straight pieces. That’s why it’s not quite the same easel I built in 1988 (maybe it was 1989).

So here I sit today in the easy chair that’s across the room from my drawing table. As I look to my right I can see the work I’ve done recently that’s piled up on my easel. I pile stuff up there when I’m not actively doing work on the easel. It’s good for looking at what I’ve done.

In the back of all the other stuff if a big ink drawing. I can just see the eyes of one of my faces. It’s a 22×30 inch face of a woman with black designs all over her face (and in the background) and horns on her head. I know that behind that drawing is about twelve other big ink drawings. Those are all the ones I’ve done this year.

When I’m working on a big ink drawing the easel is clear except for the one I’m working one. The rest aren’t put away though. I still have to scan then all in so I leave them out. But they’re so big I have no place for them in my studio. So each morning I take my stack of big ink drawings and put them on my bed. Then I put them back at night before I go to bed. I pick up the stack of drawings and put it on my easel in front of the one I’m currently working on. That’s the migration pattern of my big ink drawings. Except when I’m not working on one. Then the stack sits on my easel as it does now.

In front of the big ink drawings and on the left of the easel are a stack of my 11×17 inch “Dreams of Things” covers. The front one is in color and I think the rest of the ones in this stack are too. This is where I put them so I can look at them to see if they are done or not. When they are done they’ll just stay there for a while. I have to watch out for these ones because if a window is open they can get caught in a breeze and blow off the easel. That always drives me crazy. Sometimes I have to take them down and put them some where else. Art being flown across the room is not a fun distraction.

Next to that piece and behind some smaller stuff is one of my “Dreams of Things” covers still in black and white. That must have been the last one I finished because usually I move the black and white ones into my “To be finished” box. This is the box I keep unfinished eleven by seventeen inch drawing in. I go to it when I’m looking for something to work on. I guess I just wanted this one to be out for viewing.

In front of that one is a stack of my “Faces on Comics” drawings. Those are the ones I draw a face in white pastel and black ink on a page torn from an old comic book. I used to draw “Monsters on Comics” this same way but recently I haven’t wanted to draw monster faces. I’ve wanted to draw regular weird faces. I think there is about half a dozen of them there.

Finally, right next to the faces, there is a stack of 6×9 inch ink drawings. These are the ones I’ve been doing a lot of this summer. I take one of my thumbnail sketches from my inkbook, blow it up, print it out in blue line on 6×9 inch paper, and draw right over it in ink. I’ve been using ink and brush, ink and pen, and markers to make these. I’ve made over one hundred of them this summer but there are only a stack of about six on the easel right now.

So here I am contemplating all those pieces on my easel and trying to figure out what it all means. I have no answer. The meaning of things eludes me. Some mornings it’s all about the contemplating.