Morning Chat: A Conversation With Johntimothy

Johntimothy at an interlude with moments of play on the tiny Buddha Board, a reusable calligraphy pad.

Johntimothy at an interlude with moments of play on the tiny Buddha Board, a reusable calligraphy pad.

This morning, I sat for a bit in Johntimothy's studio while he worked and asked him a few questions about printmaking and the work that he loves. My notes from that conversation/interview with Johntimothy are below. I have to say that even though you know someone so well, or think you do, there is always room for surprise and delight in the course of a conversation. Hope you enjoy this conversation as much as I did!

Patti: I know that you are enamored with nearly all the printmaking processes! Right now, you are concentrating your time in the studio on intaglio . Can you tell our blog readers why you are so drawn to these processes?

Johntimothy: First and foremost, I'm attracted to the way ink sits on paper with intaglio. It's dimensional! Then there is the fact of the bravado--being able to draw into metal. My first printmaking course in college was an intaglio class, so that may have left its mark...pun intended. Intaglio is sculptural--there is a sculptural aspect to creating the plate and I am drawn to the physicality of it. There is a kind of resistance that you have to fold yourself into. While it is also there in other printmaking processes, it is especially the case with intaglio. I just find it engaging.

A proof of a tiny engraving plate in process

A proof of a tiny engraving plate in process

detail

detail

Patti: Is there anything about the slowness of the process that is part of the attraction?

Johntimothy: Yes, with engraving especially. Some people don't like these processes because you don't see the final product until it is printed and that takes quite awhile. There is a delay for sure. But through time, you can learn to read the plate as you go to be able to see or envision what the image will look like. You do have to slow down and I do like that aspect.

Engraving.jpg
full engraving (with some mezzotint marks)

full engraving (with some mezzotint marks)

detail of plate showing engraved lines and mezzotint burr marks

detail of plate showing engraved lines and mezzotint burr marks

Patti: You are an artist/teacher, so can you talk about what your decades of teaching have taught you about the learning process? What words of advice or bits of wisdom could you share with someone who wants to begin making art, but finds that fear and doubt hold them back?

Johntimothy: Teaching all this time has taught me that the learning process is just that--a process. For a variety of reasons, in the arts, doubt and uncertainty are always present and are compounded with the cultural stigma of fear of failure. In education, we talk a lot about the importance of failure in the learning process, yet there is still a good deal of teaching connected to just how to deal and learn from failure. In my own practice, this is something I still deal with on a daily basis. Connected to all this is the aspect of confidence. Is it learned or innate? Maybe both. Also, we have to be open to being vulnerable. When you fail, you are vulnerable. When you are open to an experience, to see it for what it is, you are exposed--and therefore vulnerable. We aren't taught how to be vulnerable. Instead we are taught that vulnerability is weakness and that showing any signs of weakness is bad. You can be taken advantage of....you could lose to an opponent. Maybe it's part of the fight or flight aspect of our brains.

Patti: Those "survival" skills serve us well in certain situations though.

Johntimothy: Sure, but they don't serve us well at all times. They can throw into question what is meant by "strength". There is that old cliche that "might is right", but strength comes in many forms. Vulnerability can certainly be a strength.  This calls to mind one of our ongoing conversations and the advice that you share with me about working through your hands and trusting your inner self. Looks like I have some future questions formulating for when we reverse roles and I interview you.

Patti: Printmakers love process and they also have some pretty cool tools that go with each method....any favorite tools?

Johntimothy: Yeah, printmakers can geek out on tools. And there are lots of fun things to play with. Sometimes it's just because they look cool--I do have lots of tools and a lot of really fun ones. Does the tool direct me to a process? Well, with engraving, yes. With that, there's a go-to tool....because of the size, it's the #8 burin. That one is my go-to, but does that make it a favorite? I suppose. But, then again, I may not use a favorite tool as much, because I want to save it. There's that idea of babying it--that you only bring it out for special occasions. You could have the workhorse tool that is favorite...or you could have the favorite you only bring out at special times.

A few of the well-loved tools

A few of the well-loved tools

#8 burin....a go-to tool

#8 burin....a go-to tool

Patti: How about that big magnifier you look through to draw? Could you do this work without it?

Johntimothy: I could do it, but it I would not find it as easy. Printmakers love process and I question how early engravers could have worked without any magnification to achieve the fidelity, delicacy and nuance of the marks they made. Those are drawing marks that often I don't fully see or appreciate until I see the print through a magnifier. Then I am astounded by the confident, gestural sureness of those marks and I ask how could they have even done it without magnification!

A major tool....for working on difficult-to-see plates

A major tool....for working on difficult-to-see plates

Patti: I just have one more question. I think I know the answer to this, but I'm prepared to be surprised!. Your printmaking heroes...can you name a few? 

Johntimothy: It's a long and varied list....there are too many to name and I'll probably forget some of my favorites. If I focus on artists working in intaglio....well, historically, there is Rembrandt, of course, along with all the typical hitters, including, Goya, Durer, Mary Cassatt and Kathe Kollwitz. Perhaps lesser known are the beautiful drypoints of The Master of the Amsterdam Cabinet and Martin Lewis along with the etchings of Charles Meryon and Felix Bracquemond. A small sampling of the variety of contemporary artists that immediately come to mind include Karla HackenmillerArt Werger, Doug Bosley, and Tanja Softic

Patti: Thanks....I'll stop distracting you and let you get to back to work. See you at lunch!

 

 

Autumn Nocturne

Autumn Nocturne no. 1 (in process)

Autumn Nocturne no. 1 (in process)

Days are getting progressively shorter and the nights noticeably cooler as autumn waits in the wings just around the corner. I find myself now drawn back into blue...indigo that is, and the deep richness that calls to mind another series of Nocturne pieces. While the word nocturne most often refers to a music composition, the meaning of the word harkens back to the darkness of the night sky. 

Some folks are night people, more awake and alive at night. I'm not one of them, actually. I much prefer the daylight hours, but still, I am fascinated by the kaleidoscope of stars in the night sky, the immensity of the cosmos, and the vastness of deep time. Those ideas inspired a series of ink drawings I did some years ago....white ink on handmade paper painted with multiple layers of deep blue acrylic. I don't believe I still have any of them, but one from the series is pictured below.

Nocturne no. 6

Nocturne no. 6

A new series of nocturnes seems to be underway, and though based in blue, it is taking a different turn. I am still experimenting with paper and materials, but I've started on a thin Japanese relief printing paper that can take a bit of moisture. The blue in that first piece at the top of this post was laid down with a few layers of flat water-based screen printing, thanks to Johntimothy. Payne's gray and white ink for the drawing. I like the contrast of the white, but also the way the dark ink lays on the blue paper. The drawing on that is finished and I've already dipped it in beeswax, so will do some sewing next, I think. 

Autumn Nocturne no.2 (in process)

Autumn Nocturne no.2 (in process)

In the piece pictured above (not yet dipped in beeswax), the base blue comes from several layers of overlapping brushstrokes of indigo watercolor, with white ink for the drawing. Both of these pieces are 12" x 9", which is just a bit bigger than I normally work and just enough bigger that it makes dipping them in the beeswax, just a little more problematic. I keep the beeswax in an electric skillet, so the size is somewhat limiting. Good thing I prefer to work small!

So the new series which I've taken to calling Autumn Nocturnes, to differentiate it from the first series, is more about the ideas associated with connecting the dots. This is a theme that shows up in my work at various times. While it may appear as only a formal design element, it is much more than that. I'm quite enamored with dots, with connecting them and how that works as a metaphor for finding and making meaning. When we look up at the night sky, for instance, our field of vision is completely filled with sparkling "dots"....stars whose light is billions of years old and now just reaches us across time and space. As humans, over the eons, we have connected the dots and created constellations....not only to orient us, but to ground us, creating context and meaning out of the void.

But I think of this. When we connect the dots a certain way, we have to know that those same dots could be connected in a different pattern, which would reveal a different image, allow for different meanings to emerge. It could be this, but it could just as easily be otherwise. And I think of this too. If we make sense of the world and create meaning for our lives from the events that occur out in the world, we have to know that those same objective events, seen from another point of view, might look quite differently....those dots might very well be connected in other ways....ways that would result in another pattern, another image. Those connections would then lead to another, quite different conclusion. Connect-the-dots is a metaphor...for making meaning and a reminder that it might do us well to keep in mind that what we think of as a given, may only be a result of the way we've connected the dots, So many reasons....our culture, our experience, our fears. What appears one moment to be "true" may not be quite so grounded as we think, when we look at pattern of connected dots whose meaning is made from another's experience....someone else has connected the dots. Maybe it's a way to start the conversation over difference. Maybe we can come together to agree on the way some of the dots should be connected....one that will be meaningful to everyone.

I'll share these pieces again once they are finished! We'll see what unfolds from here. 

Here's a reminder for you....sign up for the Missouri Bend Studio Newsletter, Notes from the River! The first issue of the online newsletter has now been sent out to the initial subscribers! When you become a subscriber, you have access to a discount on works in our Etsy shops, Missouri Bend Studio and The Art Filled Home. We also take a little more behind-the-scenes look at what's happening in the studio and in our lives. You can sign up here! And while you are reading the blog, remember that if you haven't already done so, you can add your email address to subscribe and get the posts coming straight to your inbox! 

Thanks so much for interest in Missouri Bend Studio. If you are seeing this post on the day it is written, one last reminder of the Labor Day Etsy sale....I'm offering 20% off everything at Missouri Bend Studio (use coupon code: LABORDAY2017 at checkout), but sale only runs through Monday, September 4th. Enjoy your week...see you soon!

 

Prints in Process: A Visit with Johntimothy Pizzuto

Greetings, with an update from Missouri Bend Studio, where Johntimothy and I are busy in the studio. As I've given some thought to this blog, I think we'll focus a Tuesday post on what Johntimothy is up to, both in and out of the studio and a Friday post will feature my work...Studio J and Studio P, so to speak. So, today is Johntimothy's day....I'll follow him around a bit!

Working on one of many mixed intaglio plates he has in the works!

Working on one of many mixed intaglio plates he has in the works!

Johntimothy and I have been attempting to maintain a somewhat strict studio schedule of late, trying to keep ourselves productive and on course. He is on sabbatical this semester and therefore doesn't have any classes to teach, so is dedicated to spending time making new work and finishing some other projects. We both spend mornings in the studio and he too has begun working on his own daily drawing project....but, more on that another time. 

This morning he worked on a number of plates he has had in process. All are intaglio plates, which means that he is creating the image by incising into the plate with various tools. Intaglio is a broad term, which might include any number of processes such as etching, engraving, drypoint, or mezzotint, to name a few....and in fact, to name all the processes that have some part to play in each of the plates he is currently working on! He refers to them as "mixed intaglio". Some of the tools that come into use can be seen below on his desk. That's quite a magnifier, eh? I think my work is hard on the eyes, but try drawing fine lines and tiny marks through a zinc plate and being able to see what in the world you've done!

John at work 2 8 29 17.jpg

Over lunch I asked Johntimothy to define the printmaker's lingo in layman's terms, so I could help relay it to our readers. I'll give you the basics here, but you can click on each of the terms and be taken to more expansive Wikipedia definitions and discussion. He loves all these processes and depending on what he wants the image to reveal and what kind of mark he wants to make, he will choose the method and proper tool for working the plate.

Drypoint: drawing directly into the matrix or printing plate (could be metal or even plexiglas) with a sharp stylus.

Etching: image in the plate is the result of etching with acid or corrosive salt (he uses ferric chrloride, a safer etchant) in order to hold ink.

Engraving: Cutting incised lines in a metal printing plate with the use of a burin (there's also wood engraving, but that uses different tools).

Mezzotint: Reductive process in which the drawing is revealed by scraping and burnishing the image of the dark background surface created by a making a field of dense burrs with a tool called a rocker. Mezzotint creates a tonal image.

Those are very basic ways to describe the different processes, so I encourage you to follow up and investigate these links to find more information. You will see the evidence of all of these processes in his work....check out his gallery page here on the website.

Earlier proof below, today's proof above

Earlier proof below, today's proof above

So, after working on a plate for some time, it will be time to see just where it is and how far it's come from the last proof. So today, some fresh proofs ended up pinned to the board in the studio. Check them out....everything still a work in process. He'll often pin an earlier version below and the fresh proof above in order to check progress, as seen here.

Earlier proof below, today's proof above

Earlier proof below, today's proof above

The changes in the print immediately above here are the most striking. See especially the difference in the rich darks that show up in the upper example. That's the mezzotint....so he "rocked" that part of the plate to create the tiny burrs that hold a lot of ink, creating that rich, deep black. Where you see white on the plate, the ink is wiped off, leaving ink only in the incised lines that show the image. This image will go through quite a bit more change, I'm quite sure. I'm glad he was ready to do some proofing today, as there are many many hours of work on the plates in between printing even just a proof.

I have immense appreciation and respect for printmakers and ability to create such richness from a simple piece of metal. There is a long history, tradition and dedication to craft that comes with the territory, which draws many folks to become printmakers....and others of us to love what they are able to create!

 

Meditation Through Drawing: Notes on the Daily Practice

Daily Drawing August 19, 2017

Daily Drawing August 19, 2017

 

I’d like to talk a little bit here about the daily drawing ritual that keeps me grounded and balanced.  I call the practice Drawing Meditation, as it shares some similarities with a more traditional sitting meditation that focuses on the breath.

Meditation can take many forms, but often one sits quietly and focuses on the breath, working to detach from the thoughts and distractions that inevitably flood the mind. The idea, as I’ve always understood it, is to let go and not get caught up in the “monkey mind” that keeps us all on edge and off balance.

August 20, 2017 daily drawing (sold)

August 20, 2017 daily drawing (sold)

I do this same thing through drawing. I sit down each morning with a sheet of 6” x 4” blank Japanese paper and a pencil and often a bit of watercolor. With no attempt to make a particular drawing, that is, with no idea what will emerge, the drawing begins. The process is one of letting go, as I let my hand make the marks on the page. There is a kind of remove, as I become the observer, detached….there and not there, fully present but not exerting control….letting go.  In this practice, watching your hand move across the page is akin to focusing on the breath. 

Daily drawing August 21, 2017

Daily drawing August 21, 2017

If you are in a mindful state and not exerting control, there will be a kind of detached wonder at what emerges on the page.  Remember, that inner critic has been banned from entering the room, so you are free! Think of it as a kind of dance. You will know from within when you are finished. Since there are no rules, there is no need to fill the page…there may be just a few stray marks, but you will be in tune with your own sense of balance and composition, the weight of line, the sense of space etc. What emerges on the page may not be anything you recognize in the outer world around you. At the end, the drawing you've made may or may not be to your liking...but, the product isn’t the point. I believe that you will have begun to tap into your inner landscape….that place that is your source, where your knowledge and wisdom reside. 

Daily drawing August 22, 2017

Daily drawing August 22, 2017

My drawing meditation practice may last just five or ten minutes, but there are no rules, so it might take you longer. But the idea is not to labor over it....if you find you are putting effort into thinking about it  or about what to do next, you may not be in the flow of it. Like anything, it may take practice, so If you are new to this, it may take some time to be able to relinquish control. You are not making a “drawing”, but the drawing is reflecting you, in a sense.  Over the course of time, with such a daily practice, you will begin to see and have a sense of your own mark making and I also believe you will develop a new kind of trust and connection with yourself. Strangely, in the process of letting go, you may feel more in touch.

Daily drawing August 23 2017

Daily drawing August 23 2017

I’ve carried on with this daily practice on and off for many years now. There are periods when I drop it or the dedication falls by the wayside, not necessarily intentionally, but because life gets a bit crazy. But I am also reminded how important and fundamental it is for me when I return to it. My sense of equilibrium and balance is restored. 

Daily drawing August 24, 2017

Daily drawing August 24, 2017

I've shared here a week of daily drawings....each one different, each one a reflection of a the few introspective moments when time slows down and the inner landscape reveals itself. The invisible made visible.

I have many of these daily drawings, the result of this meditation practice, available at a reasonable cost in my Etsy shop, Missouri Bend Studio. Countless dozens are available in the shop and hundreds more lay about in stacks in the studio. That may seem contradictory to everything I’ve just said about the process not having to result in a product. Let’s talk about that next time….I have some thoughts to share!

In the meantime, before I post today's daily drawing, just a note to let you know I am planning a newsletter that will go out the first of each month (or thereabouts!). In addition to news and updates, newsletter subscribers will receive a discount on purchases in the shop here at Missouri Bend Studio. I'd love it if you subscribed! You can do that by filling out your name and email address on the form located on the About Us page here on the website. Don't worry, your contact information stays here. I'm still working out the ideas and format for the newsletter, so please let me know if there are things you'd like to see or hear more about. Look forward to hearing from you....enjoy your weekend!

 
 

What Remains

Explorers' Notebooks no.6

Explorers' Notebooks no.6

Well, it's been some time since I've written, but the last few weeks have been filled to the brim with travel, along with planning for my niece's September wedding which will take place in our backyard on the banks of the Missouri River. Johntimothy and I have just returned from a wonderful trip to various locations all over the state of Montana where we enjoyed visiting with my extended family in a couple of mini-reunions, along with a venture down to Yellowstone and a spectacular trip through the Bear Tooth Pass. As enriching and thrilling as it is to be away, it does take some time to get your usual rhythms back! So....finally ready to share some thoughts and images with you.

The image above, Explorers' Notebooks no.6, was nearly finished when I left for Montana, so the only thing that was done in the last couple of days was the stitched line on the lower portion....for me, it's an echo of the amazing mountains I saw, but I can see that it might be seen as a time line, part of a chart, or some other documentary evidence. As those familiar with my work already know, I am fascinated by the ability of the book page to document the newly discovered and to communicate across time and place. I've invented those floating forms at the top and the little white snippets that appear to identify them are just bits of book page text painted out with acrylic. I am more interested in the idea of these book pages and their ability to capture our sense of wonder than in depicting actual specimens.

Glacier National Park, Montana

Glacier National Park, Montana

Flathead Lake, Montana

Flathead Lake, Montana

The focus of my work is of a different kind than actual observation....more difficult to put into language....or visual terms. My search is really about what remains. Until now, I've put that in terms of "the trace", but that has always implied some physical manifestation, something visible left behind. But I've come to understand that to describe this nebulous "thing" I'm after as something tangible kind of misses the point....the longing and the yearning are really all about the intangible, as ultimately what remains can't be held or touched.

Hot Springs, Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming

Hot Springs, Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming

The impressions left after the breathtaking views seen front and center or from the periphery in a moving vehicle, the glance of a stranger, the moments of warmth and cheer when gathered with generations of DNA sharing relatives, some of whom you've only just met....all seep into your being and become a part of you. They become memories, but also more than that, as each moment lived changes who you are just a little bit.

Old Faithful, Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming

Old Faithful, Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming

In the end, perhaps nothing remains in the material world, and yet, everything remains....everything you've seen and heard, everything you've experienced lives in you somewhere and beyond you when you're gone. Call it something, call it stardust. And just how do you get at that notion through the slow process of making small and intimate drawings on paper? How do you open that door to the invisible through the seen and the felt world of material things? That's my quest....that's what is behind the Explorer's Notebooks. I'm trying to document those things you can't point to, that you can't see, but you sense them....put together, it's all that remains.

 

Navigating the Waters

July 6, 2017 daily drawing

July 6, 2017 daily drawing

I seem to be carving out a bit more time in the studio....enough to get back to the dailies and finish up a couple more ambitious pieces. This summer is filled with visitors and trips, both near and far, so this open window of time is not going to last long....but for now, I'm enjoying the rhythm.

Explorers' Notebooks, no.5

Explorers' Notebooks, no.5

 

Another finished piece in the Explorers' Notebooks series. The slow pace involved in making these pieces gives me time to ponder....what they reveal and what they conceal. I wonder if those words, caught in the net, are a metaphor for unspoken thoughts or unrealized dreams. Are they words undelivered or perhaps caught, just in time, allowing them to be sorted and spoken with more care? And that river....it's the one I look at every day out my window, but it is so much more than that, of course. I think of it as the river of time, of memory....the one that sweeps all our days away to join the others downstream, the one that reminds us that change is constant and each day we have the chance to begin anew.

Gathering of Stones

Gathering of Stones

 

Johntimothy and I are also in the process of collaborating on mixed media print works, which we sell in our Etsy shop, The Art Filled Home. You can view many of these works here on our website, as well. I have a stack of beautiful patterned silkscreen pieces that he has made, ready for me to draw on, but I seem to have gotten away from them of late. This week, I finished one up that I like very much. I find I am drawn to a slightly off-kilter composition, just out of balance, yet one that invites relaxation and contemplation. Stones, such as these, often find their way into my work, as yet another signifier of time and memory. And those flowing lines....in some ways, they are much like a river. This piece is just as much Johntimothy's as it is mine....he sets up the color palette and the subtle patterns and I respond with drawing. We have much to explore in this area, with plans to create more scroll-like compositions, playing more with juxtaposing pattern and image. Stay tuned!

 
A newly created fire pit area out by the river

A newly created fire pit area out by the river

Meanwhile, earlier this summer we (meaning, mostly Johntimothy) put the finishing touches on the fire pit area, the project we began last summer. It's so wonderful to be out by the water on a not-too-hot summer afternoon with a cool, refreshing drink. It feels as if we have a whole new living room, actually! There have been quite a few fires in that fire pit, but evenings lately have been a bit muggy. But, Johntimothy has wood, branches and kindling placed just so in there....we're ready on the next night that's just a bit cooler. Actually, I believe I'll head out there now! Until next time....enjoy your week!

 
 

The Flow

Approaching storm over the Missouri River, June 29, 2017

Approaching storm over the Missouri River, June 29, 2017

I love the long, slow days of summer when the sunlit evenings linger, moving in a kind of slow motion, toward the approaching hour of sunset. While we have breakfast, and often lunch, on the front porch where the nest full of newly hatched barn swallows is the star attraction, the evenings are often spent out closer to the river in our fire pit patio area. Not tonight though....with the menacing storm approaching, we returned to the front to sit through the storm under cover. A little hail, some heavy rain, and then bright skies returned and a quiet hush fell as the ground soaked up that much needed water.  We've waited so long for some rain, I felt myself relax just a bit....for the sake of the parched plants.

In the middle of each day, I try to spend some time in the studio. Days are often filled with weeding, gardening chores, and errands, so I'm lucky just to get to the daily drawing and a bit of journal writing. But always the goal is spend some real time working....that's when all my insights come....during the slow passage of time quietly drawing or stitching on paper. The studio is where the grounding happens and I'm easily thrown off kilter if I neglect my time there. 

 
Explorer's Notebooks, no.5 (in process)

Explorer's Notebooks, no.5 (in process)

 

This piece above is still in the works, but I thought I'd share it with you now as a way of talking about the intuitive process in the studio. This series, The Explorer's Notebooks, allows me to pay homage to the beautiful journal pages and documentary drawings of explorer's through the ages, while also drawing on my own inquiries in living mindfully each day. I am drawn to the magical capabilities of language, though I am not a writer. As a visual artist, I use asemic writing to spark curiosity and wonder, in myself and in the viewer. With each drawing, I "know" one step at a time what goes where, which means I never really know how a piece will come together until it is finished. I start from a place of unknowing and usually end at a place of understanding, as the slow revelations happen while the work progresses. Putting the understanding into language, which is after all the inspirational foundation of the work, is most difficult. 

In this piece, it wasn't until the main base layer of the piece has been drawn and then dipped in the beeswax that I knew what I was to do next....a net....to capture language. The countless words that we speak or hear during the course of a day, the important ones and those that are lost to oblivion....all those words. Not to mention the words rattling around in our head that never escape our lips....all those thoughts, all those precious words. They hold the power to heal or destroy, create anew or kindle a fire in the heart. What if you could capture all the words that filled your day in a metaphoric net....one that allowed you to sift and sort, holding on to the treasured words and taking back the ones you never meant to say? Or the ones that hurt you....perhaps you could let them go? What if there was a count of all the words spoken....how would you form a tally? And that river.....isn't it really as if all the words are like a constant stream, moving along toward a fast moving river? The hours of our day rush past, sweeping all those words up in a torrent. But the river, isn't that the flow of our collective history....who can say where it is going?

I took this photo earlier in the day and now the piece is further along....I will share it here when it is finished. Our 4th of July national holiday is fast approaching. We'll have some houseguests, including two lively dogs, which will be fun! Hope you enjoy the holiday....see you soon! 

 

Exploring New Territory

I've been inspired lately by a new book I checked out from the local public library, Explorers' Sketchbooks (now on its third renewal!). I am struck by the notion of exploration, which is rooted in an innate curiosity about the world. We are used to hearing about all manner of men and women (mostly men, of course) down through the ages who risked their lives to venture into the unknown. But, does it seem to you, that there is a sense that we've essentially discovered it all? While that is not remotely the case, it feels as if, in the public imagination, there is a lack of curiosity about the vast unknown worlds. Think of all those unexplored territories that surround us on all sides....the soil beneath our feet, the expanding universe, black holes, dark matter, the human body, the oceans, migration patterns, traffic patterns, it's endless....we've not even really scratched the surface!

Explorer's Notebooks, no.1

Explorer's Notebooks, no.1

I've begun a new series of mixed media drawings, Explorers' Notebooks, that will allow me to explore the idea of "exploration." Inspired by the Explorers' Sketchbooks, filled with images and text including the beautiful journals, notations and drawings, all attempts to capture the newly seen and experienced, I am using these pieces to explore my own inner worlds, as well as the place and moment in time where I find myself. All of which can be seen as uncharted territory. 

While so many places on the planet have been discovered, mapped and described by others, maybe the secret and the way to reignite our curiosity is to attempt an expedition into our own worlds....the places we think we already know. 

Explorers' Notebooks, no.2

Explorers' Notebooks, no.2

Speaking of discoveries, thanks to Jennifer Coyne Qudeen for the word "asemic", which is defined as a kind of wordless open semantic form of writing. It is the form of writing without a specified content. I was astonished to come across it on one of Jennifer's Instagram posts, as my own practice is based in what I have always, clumsily called, wordless writing...or some other vague term. To discover that what I do in the studio and the mark making practice that comes so naturally to me, not only has a name, but a codified definition and a whole host of practitioners....well, it feels akin to discovering someone at last who speaks my language. The marks that fill these drawings hearken back to the pattern of writing, perhaps a newly unearthed ancient manuscript, an attempt to communicate down the ages (as the written word is meant to do), but which, for whatever reason, can no longer be deciphered.

Writing and text, seen in these visual terms.....that's my current exploration. Thank to Jennifer and all the countless others who practice asemic writing....you've marked a path for me and now I'm on my own road of discovery. Cheers!

Explorers' Notebooks, no.3 in process

Explorers' Notebooks, no.3 in process