With the year hurtling towards its inevitable conclusion, things always get busy in studio. As October started, I was fresh off finishing my mural and thoughts turned to making a series of simple ink drawings. Of course, nothing ever really comes easy. If there’s a way to make something difficult, I can do it!
I’ve pushed a bunch of new painting ideas into next year. That means I can spend the last moments I have this year working on a series of ink drawings. My initial thoughts were to produce some pleasant images that I could perhaps sell before the Christmas holidays. Of course, my mind and heart argue a lot, so the subject matter veered away from that in a sense.
When I was trying to find the imagery I would use to construct this series of drawings, I stumbled upon beached ships. These tied into my interest in the traditional Ship of Fools allegory. I liked the idea of stranded, obsolete, and grounded ships as an allegory to today’s America. I started sketching ships in various states of disrepair and mentally started pairing them with modern scenarios in which their status as a boat is of no assistance. World Trade Center rubble, environmental disasters and general disarray started to fill some smaller, postcard sized sketches.
My workflow on these drawings was a slow, byzantine process. I started with sketches on 15”x20” paper, then made a second series of postcard sized sketches. Careful not to make a mistake in ink, I even photoshopped some color into some of the images before working on the full sized drawings.
Pulling Together the Ink Drawings
Progress was slow. I alternated between small linework in ink with some watered down acrylic washes. Through most of the process I wasn’t sure what the final result would actually end up looking like. I eventually found the themes and color palettes for the few drawings that were falling behind. Between the alternating ink and washes, I enjoyed drawings the intricate fields of debris and tattered landscapes.
I really do enjoy making these intricate inked patterns that developed throughout the series. There’s a certain zen mindset that takes over. It’s simultaneously thinking about the drawing and not worrying about it at the same time. This lets the ink build naturally and hopefully hides the mental patterns our minds find and try to emphasize.
As October comes to a close, the drawings still feel like they are a week or two away from completion. Part of that is the physical time needed to finish them , the other is still allowing their ideas to gestate and announce their own intentions. I have a bunch of working titles and ideas scratched onto the backs of the postcard sized sketches. As this whole process works out, I have come up with a working title for the series of drawings: “This American Century”. It’s not a particularly positive outlook on things, but then again, nobody has accused 2021 or the current state of America as being particularly positive either. So it goes.
The Music of the Month
This month’s musical standby is none other than Elvis. I found this album in a CD rack at a used record store in Cork oh so long ago. My opinions about the album have held steadfast over the years. This is one of the best recordings Elvis ever created.