Bar Drawing: That Elusive Moment

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Bar drawing has been part of my drawing process since my first year of graduate school. Sometimes I’ll go weeks without drawing the bar, other times it becomes the main focus on my work. Either way it impacts all of my other artwork. Many people have suggested I draw another type of space, and although open to this idea, I like the obsessiveness of always coming back to the same bars. Maybe one day I’ll never draw the bar again, but I don’t see that day being anytime soon.

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I would draw mostly on scrap pieces of paper. I believed that due to my intuitive impulse, I was responding to the shape of the paper instead of the environment. For years a professor from graduate school has been telling me to cut the edges straight, and I kept not listening. The scrap pieces worked for a while, resulting in a show at School 33 in Baltimore back in 2014. They then evolved into pen sketches in my sketchbook (with which I made a video for my thesis show).

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When I began bar drawing after completing this piece (on scraps of paper again) they started to feel like individual pieces for the first time. The way I was portraying the space of the bar was successful, however, the ripped paper wasn’t working. Not wanting to take the time to cut the paper nicely, I grabbed some left over pieces of gessoed Masonite board before going to the bar. I noticed the difference but there was something about the texture of the gesso that wasn’t working on that scale.

A few weeks ago I FINALLY cut some nice Reeves BFK paper (the stuff I’ve been working with since 2010). The result was a drawing that I think I’ve been trying to make for the past 4 years. Conceptually and formally it clicked; that elusive moment where you know you made something great and everything clicks. Now if I could just have the patience to cut more paper the same size so I can make some more!

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Is A Drawing Ever Really Finished?

Sometimes the hardest part of making art is finishing it. This is even harder for me since my artistic process (and concepts) revolves around combing photographs in a drawing, working intuitively, and leaving areas unresolved and empty on purpose. When working on my MFA at Towson University, this theme almost always dominated my conversations during my committee reviews and, even in the smallest manner, was touched on during almost every one of my artist critiques.

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This last drawing that I FINALLY finished is no different. I first thought it was finished towards the very beginning, as unfinished as it looked I still liked it. Over the past few months the more ‘loose” and ‘sketchy’ marks I would add, the harder it became to erase or draw over them when needed.

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However, composition issues soon arose. The top left corner was too weighted and it was a struggle balancing out all of the white space on the right side of the drawing. Having to move my drawing up and down on my drawing board was challenging since I couldn’t always see the whole drawing at once. (I miss my studio more and more lately).

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My second to last time working on this drawing was exceptionally infuriating. I knew it wasn’t done but it felt as if it would never be completed. Enough time went by and when I came back to it, I almost didn’t work on it because I thought it was finished. That is until I kept seeing areas to fix. Two hours later it felt more complete than almost any other large drawing I’ve done in the past few years.

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It’s been a while…

One day I won’t be so bad at updating this blog! I was doing really well last winter and spring. However, I got a lot of rejections in the late spring, which made it difficult to create work. Recently I began a teaching job, which has opened up Friday nights for gallery openings and has seemed to re-connect me to an art community. I also FINALLY got some work into a gallery. It’s nice to feel rejuvenated. All I want to do is make art but finding time recently has been difficult.

I resolved a lot of issues I had in my smaller drawings but they became easy (even though I loved making them). I didn’t “get stuck”, I could sit down, and the t.v. in the background kept me just focused enough. Working on my larger drawings meant standing and constant frustration. However, what was (and is) so nice about working on my larger work means becoming fully immersed in the drawing process; especially with headphones on while drinking one to two glasses of wine.

I’ve been trying to finish my “waiting” series of domestic interiors and am currently working on my fourth piece. They are all 4.5’ x 3.5’. The two drawings of the kitchen and the chairs are drawn from a small 13” x 13” drawings I did in graduate school. A visiting artist gave me the idea to draw from another drawing when I was in graduate school and I love the results! I also have taken a new approach to bar drawing, hoping to build up the drawings on gessosed masonite board the way I did with my thesis drawings. It also resolves the issues of the ripped paper I was working on.

New Work

I always admire artists who can keep up a blog that shows their studio progress. It’s a quick way to show new work that hasn’t been photographed or uploaded in any professional way. It’s also a way for artist to create an archive of thoughts that could be useful in the future. I, however, have been awful at this until my last blog which seemed to have suddenly disappeared. After taking the summer “off” after graduate school I am back into good art-making habits. Here is some of my recent work. In the past I’ve struggled to finish drawings but these 5″ x 5″ drawings have been easy and fun to make and feel complete in a way some of my old work never did. Thank you graduate school.

 

Really really really missing my studio but I’m making it work which seems to be the most important thing!