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The Big Drawings

 

In the last 3 or 4 years I’ve been working on oversized figurative drawings, working in pencil and acrylic washes on Arches paper that comes in a roll, 4½-foot square images or sheets of 300-pound Lana 3.5 x 5 feet.  The paper is pinned to a board leaning against the wall and I make a base drawing in pencil.  When I’m ready to paint, I shift the board to the floor.  I love working at this scale, size-as or larger, such an interesting focus, when you’re close to it, kneeling on a cushion to paint, or drawing—ergo, at arm’s length—you  can’t see it all.  Washes offer an interesting challenge because they’re bound to puddle; it becomes about controlling or directing that ‘cauliflower’ effect.  William Kentridge talks about how the story of his films is really the story of a repeated short walk between the wall, where he draws in charcoal on paper, and the still camera about 4 feet away.  (He shoots a few frames, makes changes to the drawing—he decides these as he goes, rather than having a predetermined plot in mind—then shoots more frames, etc.)  I think these larger images of mine are about drawing, standing back, stepping back in, and lots and lots of erasure.  The painting is about kneeling and leaning and then standing and walking around in my socks.  I’m working fairly wet, and the end result looks like a big watercolour.  The scale of the work makes the figure more or less equal to me, and that makes for an interesting encounter, between artist and subject, as well as between subject and process.

 

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