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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