Monday, June 11, 2012


Art has been sort of at an all time low for me recently.
All this transition and moving about with no stable zone of operations has left me feeling groundless, full of doubts and uncertainties.....and most assuredly unable to focus.

But here are some pages from my recently started sketchbook.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Tunnel Book Diorama

So I finished the tunnel book diorama.......i just made a single unit instead of a whole book........
The finished product is sloppier than i had hoped.
I did not have ideal paper
But I also think I havent quite mastered this technique.
For one thing, my measuring and cutting is always the tiniest bit off......I've never been good at being exact.
For another, with paper this flimsy I should have made a sturdier design.....the paper is very warped........which is a problem i had with my Lady of Shalott book.
They both fold flat but when you open them, the pages are all bendy

But i like to think of this as a prototype for something bigger and better.

I would love to make Intaglio tunnel books......with printed and collaged images......
But hopefully I'll get access to a press when I live in the states.......

I found these awesome stamps at my neighborhood stationary store.....I love stamps! and big number stamps will be so useful!!! and they were so cheap! i will miss the cheap but quality stationary goods of China.

Its time for a new tattoo and I've been wanting to get something with Chinese influences. I have a location: outer right forearm
but i'm not sure of a design.
I'm thinking about some sort of peony papercut type thing. The peony is an important flower in China, it's a masculine flower, it means abundance and can symbolize happiness in marriage among other things.

But even though it's a masculine flower.....I still feel weird about getting something so traditionally girly on my arm.......not that i have butch tattoos, I have a little girl riding on a fish from a fairytale.....but flowers are another thing entirely.

I do really like Chinese papercuts though.....but perhaps not as a tattoo......
the search continues.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

lines and colors

I made this painting on a whim about six months ago.
I put it on the wall and have been looking at it and still feel drawn to it, so I decided to further explore the feelings behind it by making more pieces in the same vein.

I dont feel it is as successful.
I used a thin brush to paint the lines with ink but because I used rough watercolor paper, the lines were difficult to control, as a result, they are much wider spaced than I would like, but I really think what happened with the watercolor and white ink pigment is really interesting.

I really love this one, but it feels unfinished.
I like the fingertip-esque mountains and the thin lines (i used a crow quill dip pen this time) and the red plumes have a delicacy that intrigues me.
They were painted wet-on-wet and i like that they resemble a chinese blossom tree or veins or something.
But there needs to be a point of greater contrast, something that really draws the eye in......I guess I shouldnt worry about fucking it up, I should just try something and makes another if it fails.

This type of painting is really simple to make but I love the meditative state I need to be in to make the tiny lines.

I was thinking about the effect living in China has had on me, and whether I have made an effect at all.

It made me start thinking about communication. I worry so much about making my art ABOUT something that I ignore all the interesting things that are happening to me.
What I am really interested in is learning how to take my experiences and translate them to the page in a way that other people can see and also in a way that isn't so obvious and trite.
I want to delve deeper into my subconscious.
I want to find a way to draw my dreams and imaginings that isn't realistic illustration.

I really love illustration but I don't like to draw things that are so representational that there isn't any hidden meaning to be found.

But let's face it. My drawing from life skills could stand a little improvement. Which is why I've gone back to basics a little.

I found these great blocks, and I want to practice drawing them as a simulation for larger cityscapes.
We shall see how that progresses.

I get so impatient with still life, especially angles and perspective.....but I just have to put in the time and practice more. That's the only way to get better.

And of course, life study. Until I can gain access to live drawing sessions, Masters copying will have to suffice.
I should add more tone and not just stop at line work.

There is always so much work to be done. And I got another big transcontinental move coming up......although, chaos always brings me great ideas........

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Grey Thursday

So I lost my momentum there for a's funny how my creative feeling will just evaporate if I have to focus on work or other things for too long.
I wish I were independently wealthy and could just do art......but probably a better (and more realistic plan) is to find an art related job when i go back to the states.....where there are no jobs......again this plan is flawed but I digress.

Here are some things I have been doing, when the muse strikes:
Here are some things from nature that I have been drawing

Here is a first attempt at the bee who impaled herself on the branch.....I intend to do more studies later on.

Here is a sketch i made while listening to How to Destroy Angels

The first layer of my new tunnel book project

The second layer unfinished

And the books I'm reading to improve myself that for some reason will not load straight....grrr

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Perspective Demons

So I started the day by drawing from an old Chinese kid's "learn to draw" book. I found it at 1RMB sale whilest walking to my brother's house through the narrow streets behind Nanjing University. This is the first volume and I also got the second. They were published in 1981 and I consider them a major score.

I proceeded to try a lesson from book one

It was simple and fun, if not entirely successful.

So I thought I'd try one from book two.....
but the piece I chose to copy was vastly different in nature, and in fact was comprised of a technique that has always eluded me.....perspective of square shapes.....

I just love this old fashioned television! It has such character and is so friendly looking....not at all like a flat screen, which has the appearance of some sort of Eye of Sauron, waiting to suck my life essence away with a press of a button........but then, I have a distrust of mechanical things.....convenience is the work of the devil.....or something like that.

Anyway, It got me to thinking that
I should practice drawing square shapes in i tried to draw a stack of i only gave it one go (i will try again later) but the difficulty i had in translating the space was notable, so i went and perched in my windowsill to have a think.
As I looked out at the vast city scape before me, I had an image of all those buildings as blocks, like one giant still life, so I thought I might try to draw them:

I thought about those tall skyscrapers in the the background....what if they were organic shapes.....and so i drew a sort of life study sketch plus some imagination....I think I will try again tomorrow, it is very tricky to draw so many buildings at once....but it is also beautiful in an urban way.

Death in a tea-mug........

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Tunnel Books and Giraffes

Last Summer I took an AMAZING class at the glorious Penland School of Crafts with the remarkably talented and wonderful Andrea Dezsö. She taught us about Tunnel Books.
Here is a panel from one of the books I made last year.
I photographed it in the dark with a light behind to try and show the layers properly.
I illustrated Alfred Lord Tennyson's The Lady of Shalott which has always been a favorite poem of mine.
I really enjoyed working on this and have been wanting to make another ever since and I finally had a decent idea worth pursuing....

Andrea gave us these beautifully detailed, hand-drawn diagrams for how to construct 4layer tunnel books and I have been working on modifying the design to fit my current plans.
A little bit of math is good exercise for my brain. Measure twice and cut once....I love working with paper and book arts are really the greatest.

This is a piece that I made a long time ago, but for some reason it still resonates with me so I want to reinterpret it into a 3D book format. I will break it down into four layers. The first will have the figure and the lines, for which i will use string of some kind. the circle will be cut out of translucent paper and the K and circles collaged onto the second layer, the mountains will each be a layer to complete the to make a proper book I just need three more images to deconstruct.

Here are some of my elaborate plans...

And some of my giraffes. I collect small toy giraffes from my travels, one of these is from berlin, one from Massachusetts, one from Georgia and one from China. I love them.
So I have tried to draw them.......and have discovered that drawing toys is actually quite tricky.

But here is my first attempt at drawing an accurate still life, granted, I left it until the end of the day, right before bed, when i was so stuffed full of duck confit from our fancy french dinner that i could not concentrate properly.....but i think perhaps I will try a different medium later. Until next time my sweet plastic giraffes.......

Monday, March 19, 2012


I seem to be preoccupied with the human form. Not surprising really....
I want to be able to draw the body accurately without a model but I also want to be able to draw distortions of the body in a way that references accurate anatomy.
Here is some fooling around that I did yesterday:
I drew the seashell first, from life, without erasing and then attempted to distort a drawing from life of a miniature plaster bust. I was using a hard mechanical pencil and trying to bring variation to my line.
I feel that when I draw figures I often work all the spontaneity out of the drawing by trying to get everything perfect, thus rendering the subject uninteresting. Here I was attempting to create more atmosphere by concentrating on line and emotion, not correct anatomy.

The figure with the turban-like head is the key form of interest for me here. I like the juxtaposition of a finely detailed face with a minimalist body. I tried to draw her again at the bottom of the page but have a greater sense of connection to the first more spontaneous figure.
The more eye-catching central form is a poorly translated idea from my head, with no reference. It seems that when I try to draw what I imagine I always fall flat, but if I find a story within a line I have already begun to draw the end result is far more emotive but difficult to duplicate or expand upon.
I think many of my pieces are murdered, in that I never take them as far as they could go, I see their potential and become frightened of spoiling them, so instead leave them frozen in the midst of their development.
Fear is the mind-killer after all.