A Matter of Trust

I believe that elements present in an artists mind will often surface in the artists work. That if the work created has been untethered from an exterior expectation or need, the work has the potential to be unconsciously seeded with the shadows of feelings through the artist’s use of a practiced intuitive vocabulary of mark-making.

“Lingering Dark” 3.5”by 5.5” charcoal on vintage paper, 2021 Zygote

For many artists, the components of their psychology are embedded into the works that they create. Arguably because of this, those that successfully separate themselves from their work are more akin to a craftsman than artist. The audience of the craftsman identifying with skill and beauty of the object presented rather than the character of experience that the artist presents.

While no claim is being made as to being a skilled craftsman, I can stake a claim of being an individual who has experiences with charcoal and paper, sharing a look at those experiences by sharing the work.

I trust that, of everyone that views the work, a few are able to reach a sense of attunement with the work, a sense of shared sympathy, a feeling of being seen and understood, and I believe that a few will find parts of themselves reflected in the work.

When I put down my charcoal… If I’ve succeeded, I find different understandings of myself that I didn’t know I placed there looking back out at me from the surface. Success is found in self discovery.

Daliberation of an Internal Path

After relaxing into three years of casual drawing, and after I don’t know how many drawings which I started and never put on a wall, I found out that dissatisfaction can actually be a much more significant motivator than success. It helps to poke at one’s own dissatisfaction and to accept it as an innate intelligent force, as a critic and a coach, one who enables you to improve. Without a teacher or peers available to push forward growth, what’s proving itself as an acceptable path forward, has been the continually questioning of this sense of internal dissatisfaction.

My dissatisfaction has essentially been my inability to capture the grist of a person, the subtleties of their defining traits. It’s this dissatisfaction that challenges each clean sheet. Doubt isn’t a problem. I know that it’s the act of repeatedly doing the work that is at hand with intention, that this particular element of dissatisfaction will either resolve itself or I’ll become accustomed to my own shortcomings.

…. but while that works itself out through repeated drawings, so many other opportunities arise that prove potentially interesting. Strategies for creating values, lines, brush strokes, erasure lifts, layering, edging, wiping, wiping….

“Jessica” 3.5”by 6” charcoal on recycled paper, 2021 Zygote

Yes… I’m dissatisfied, but I’m also usually delighted as well. It’s a space that I feel truly comfortable in. It’s what fills my mind when I wake up at three in the morning. It’s my pursuit of daydreams while weeding the beds. It’s my motivation.

Set Place

“Set Place” 3.5”by 6” charcoal on recycled paper 2021 Zygote

Somewhere in a drawing, there needs to be a puzzle or a clue that entices a viewer to move in a direction different than they were a moment earlier… It creates room to fantasize… a new space to fit ourselves into.

Yes or No

Charcoal on recycled paper, 4”by 6”, 10/2/21

The success of each drawing isn’t hinged solely on my own expectations. It starts there, but internally, each work starts and ends within a framework of my own expectation. Success is measured by the reaction to what’s being offered. It’s simply a yes or no option for an audience. Either the eyes that pass over the work linger or they don’t. A simple measure. Yes or No.

Emily

The beginning of the summer season came with a trove of drawing stock that changed how the paper being used is being seen.

“Emily” charcoal on recycled vintage paper, 4.5”by 6” Zygote 2021

Using these small sheets of flyleaf cut from vintage books has added a patina of nostalgia to the charcoal drawings. (It’s not a sin when the books are pulled from the dumpster) Using these discarded scraps as drawing stock gives a feeling of validation to the work. From another point of view, not knowing it’s history, it’s as though each drawing was valued enough to have been kept safe over time. The mystery behind each piece would be what exactly it was that gave each piece this value.

Sometimes it’s as simple as this wondering of “why“ an object has the appearance of value that gives it actual value.

Words

It’s said that “All art is political…” and it’s a statement that is felt and reasoned to be true. It’s most likely that by being taken to extream and seen as true, we’ve broadened the definition of political to the point of being meaningless. The statement has been revised to state that “All good art is political.”

Reasoned semantics can cover a lot of ground…

No, All Art Is Not Political

I see my biases and assumptions in the stack of charcoals that’s been recently done. I read in meaning and viewpoints that weren’t necessarily there while the drawing was made. The images are loaded with metaphor, but I don’t yet grasp its politics. Maybe this is an issue more clearly tackled when taken from an opposing viewpoint.

“Words” charcoal on paper, 4.5”by 6”

Is conflict a necessary element of a political image? Conflict, tension, and points of view are all essential elements to storytelling. They are also essential elements of politics?

The Inavertently Responcible Artist

The responsible artist keeps elbowing its way in with an insistence of making decisions that satisfy a hidden need for clarity and an unwelcome appetite for acceptance. It’s in service of these aspects that keeps the small, and what feels like clever ideas, bite-sized, formal, and above all, functional. Anything can be seen as having value when its function is clear and nearly anything is understandable if it’s kept simple.

Simple and functional is the fallback aesthetic of the Craftsman.

The struggle going on internally is aiming to relax into the decadence of making objects without self-judgment and deciding to not give in to an attitude that I need to be something that, at the moment, I’m not. What I want to be is making work that explores my inner world in strides. I want to be surprised by my own discovery.

I want to be an artist… but I am not. I’m reluctantly responsible. I’m a craftsman.

Craft is seldom is seen as edgy. Any endeavor at variation is hard-pressed in it’s attempt to stray far from the trope of the assigned function.

There is plenty of opportunities along the process where the irresponsible artist can emerge, disrupt, disassemble, and reformulate. Turning the act of crafting an object into a game that swings between purposely creating a string of problems and explore possibilities rather than finding solutions.

It seems like it would be easy to set function aside, but after all these years, it isn’t.