Saturday, October 13, 2007

Aspirational and Operational Drawing

I made this untitled drawing tonight (8" x 11") (July 13, 2006) and something in the process triggered memories from a trip I took. I began leafing through my old sketchbooks. Damn it, I have never labeled their spines. I was looking for the sketchbook that I had with me in the late 80's while on a 44 foot sail boat that was attempting to circumnavigate the globe. Three of us left the Puget Sound and two of us came home to our families. Those are tales that I can only tell face to face. Extremes. Tonight, however, I was looking for a drawing that I had done (or thought I had done) that was going to be the kernel of the drawing above. I found the first book from the trip. I was reminded of how hard it is to draw while sailing. . . wind flapping the paper to annoyance and Sisyphean motion testing one's half full/empty glass:
I drew the only things that I could see for awhile. Boat stuff. The sketches are filled with words in the margins. I was reading way too much. There was nothing else to do. Point the boat towards some stars, do some push ups, and then read some Kafka. That was not a healthy combo actually, but, I found these words next to a drawing of a life vest:
Obviously, these are not my words. They are from something that I read. It is a great quote though, isn't it? "Universality is not given, it is perpetually being made." (I couldn't remember who had said this, but I figured that if Harold could give a context to a lyric by the Beta Band, then maybe someone could tell me where I got this. . . . never mind. . . google tells me Sartre created a version of it). We had sailed for over a month without seeing any other humans. Landfall was sweet:
We stopped moving at Fatu Hiva. The trees were like nothing I had ever seen:
The animals were ancient:
I started drawing the tiki figures that I would stumble across (I didn't have a camera on purpose):
(Later, I would turn these drawings into paintings, hence the spatters of paint). The natives seemed to walk past these votive offerings with the same disregard that Seattelites have for their fire hydrants.
Tonight, I wasn't finding the drawing that I thought I had done. I began to pull other sketchbooks from the shelf. In an interesting moment of loopty-loop connection I came across this drawing of a tiki painting I had done that was hanging in a house that I was living in (2 years after standing on Gauguin's grave): Tonight I really connected to this drawing. It is a rendition of a place that had a painting of a drawing of a place that I had been. Plus the Rainer "R" is so pretty. Here is the original tiki drawing:
Tonight I remembered how important sketchbooks are. They represent plotting and doing. You have no idea what connections you might make in the future.

swamp, sampson, whatever.


New York City said...

Eloquent and intriguing story. Thank you for reminding me of a phrase from Robert Henri's Art Spirit, which I recall to remind me of the context.

"Art is, after all, only a trace – like a footprint which shows that one has walked bravely and in great happiness."

What your story reinforces for me, is that often we get wrapped up in the idea of the culmination of things and loose track of the journey.

I, for one, have this strange idea that if I just complete this or that, or this thing happens, then everything will be stable again. As if life and time were not always changing. As if there were some stability in my past - only the illusions of hind sight I guess. The past only looks stable because you are no longer uncertain of its immediate outcome.

On the cusp of time, however, we are filled with doubt. But we are also filled with hope - an idea which does not exist in the past as it requires on uncertainty.

You have inspired me to re-investigate my sketchbook, thank you.

New York City said...

Oh, and great drawings. I especially like the first one (reminds me of a sail billowing in the wind - almost the embodiment of riding the tides of time) and the Ficus tree with all the vines. I did a great number of sketches of those marvelous trees in Cuba and eventually made a triptych based on them.

New York City said...

Upon revisiting your sketches, they remind me very much of Gauguin.