Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Drawing a little - little, hand held and intimate.

The sketchbook is becoming its own "work" with the new additions and revisions.

All sketchbook pages are drawn with graphite, ink, pen and fluid acrylic.

If a solution fails to appear ... and yet we feel success is just around the corner, try resting for a while. ... Like the early morning frost, this intellectual refreshment withers the parasitic and nasty vegetation that smothers the good seed. Bursting forth at last is the flower of truth. 

- Santiago Ramón y Cajal

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Variations of a theme.

Little tree, little neurons, oh little dendritic spines. 

“The garden of neurology holds out to the investigator captivating spectacles and incomparable artistic emotions. In it, my aesthetic instincts found full satisfaction at last. Like the entomologist in the pursuit of brightly colored butterflies, my attention hunted, in the flower garden of the grey matter, cells with delicate and elegant forms, the mysterious butterflies of the soul, the beating of whose wings may some day – who knows? – clarify the secret of mental life.” 

Santiago Ramón y Cajal, from his autobiography “Recollections of my Life”

Saturday, September 13, 2014

A Painter of Our Time

The book, A Painter of Our Time, was introduced to me while I was an undergraduate by Shirley Schnell.  Since that time, the passage posted below has remained one of my favorites, and one which I still frequently re-read.

Nuclei Nests, ink, pen and acrylic on paper, 18" x 24"

detail of Nuclei Nests

detail of Nuclei Nests

detail of Nuclei Nests

detail of Nuclei Nests

Inspiration from “A Painter of Our Time,” By John Berger

June 26
It is the most profound activity of all, this one of drawing.  And the most demanding.  It is when I draw that I regret the weeks, the years perhaps, that I have wasted.  If, as in the fairy stories, I could grant a gift to a child who was to become a painter, it would be a long life, so that he might master this activity of drawing.  What so few people realize is that the painter, unlike the writer or the architect or the designer, is both creator and executant of his art.  He needs two lives.  And, above all, to master drawing.  Nearly every artist can draw when he has made a discovery.  But to draw in order to discover – that is the godlike process, that is to find effect and cause.  The power of colour is nothing compared to the power of the line; the line that does not exist in nature but which can expose and demonstrate the tangible more sharply than can sight itself when confronted with the actual object. To draw is to know by hand – to have the proof that Thomas demanded.  Out of the artist’s world is solid, material. But the proof is never familiar.  Every great drawing – even if it is of a hand or the back of a torso, forms perceived thousands of times before – is like the map of a newly discovered island.  Only it is far easier to read a drawing than a map; in front of a drawing it is the five senses that make a surveyor.

All great drawing is drawing by memory.  That is why it takes so long to learn.  If drawing were transcription, a kind of script writing, it could be taught in a few years.  Even before a model, you draw from memory.  The model is a reminder. Not of a stereotype that you know by heart.  Not even of anything you can consciously remember.  The model is a reminder of experiences you can only formulate and therefore only remember by drawing.  And those experiences add up to the sum total of your awareness of the tangible, three-dimensional, structural world.  A blank page of a sketch-book is a blank, white page.  Make one mark on it, and the edges of the pages are no longer simply where the paper was cut, they have become the borders of a microcosm.  Make two marks on it of uneven pressure and the whiteness ceases to be whiteness and becomes opaque three-dimensional space that must be made less opaque and more and more lucid by every succeeding mark.  That microcosm is filled with the potentiality of every proportion you have ever perceived or sensed.  That space is filled with the potentiality of every form, sliding plane, hollow, point of contact, passage of separation you have ever set eye or hand on.  And it does not stop there.  For, after a few more marks, there is air, there is pressure and therefore there is bulk and weight.  And this scale is then filled with the potentiality of every degree of hardness, yieldingness, force of movement, activeness and passiveness that you have ever buried your head in or knocked it against.  And from all this you must select in a few minutes, as nature did through millennia, in order to create a human ankle, a human arm-pit with the pectoral muscle burying itself like an underground stream, or the bough of a tree.  From all this you must select the one lock and one key.  I think I would grant three lives not two.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

New Nuclei

Conceptualizing neurons and nuclei in an unconventional portrait.

Man as Sunflower, Sunflower as Nuclei, acrylic and ink on paper, 11" x 14"

detail, Man as Sunflower, Sunflower as Nuclei

detail, Man as Sunflower, Sunflower as Nuclei

detail, Man as Sunflower, Sunflower as Nuclei

"Unfortunately, nature seems unaware of our intellectual need for convenience and unity, and very often takes delight in complication and diversity."

- Santiago Ramón y Cajal

Monday, September 1, 2014

Sketchbook entries

A day spent in working in the sketchbook.  Below is a sampling of today's results.

Sketchbook drawing #4, graphite and ink on paper, 5" x 13"

Sketchbook drawing #5, graphite and ink on paper, 5" x 13"

Sketchbook drawing #3, graphite and ink on paper, 5" x 13"

"Like the enotmologist in search of colorful butterflies, my attention has chased in the gardens of the grey matter cells with delicate and elegant shapes, the mysterious butterflies of the soul, whose beating of wings may one day reveal to us the secrets of the mind." 

- Santiago Ramón y Cajal