Sunday, November 28, 2010

The brush and I

Today as I worked in the studio, it struck me that a great majority of the last 200 or 30 pieces have been acrylic paint and ink, and created primarily with brushes. That really surprised me since, prior to this project, I used pens and colored pencils exclusively and was more or less terrified of brushes of any kind. When I started this project, I wanted to force myself to make art more quickly, more simply, more loosely, and in a wider variety of media. I think, without even paying attention, I have started to edge toward those goals. It's difficult to convey, in a simple blog post, just how much of a revelation this is to me, and just how afraid I really was to work with a paint brush. I've really begun to enjoy it, and the evidence is in how many pieces I've painted recently.

After I thought about this for a while, and looked back at some of my favorite recent pieces, I decided today to work on a few Moby-Dick-related pieces that weren't specifically tied to a page number or a line of text. I was lucky enough to have a bit of time off for the Thanksgiving holiday, so I made full use of that luxury by making some art purely for fun and personal exploration. These are the pieces I made today.

This first one was inspired by a Leonard Baskin print of the White Whale and the Ray Bradbury book Green Shadows, White Whale. It's a simple piece, but one which I think gets close to that idea of the White Whale himself. It measures 15.5 inches by by 10.75 inches tall and is acrylic paint and ink on found paper. Thematically, I suppose it belongs to the "Leviathan" series of pieces I was working on earlier this year, but had to abandon so I could focus on this project. I only completed the "Black Leviathan" and the "Gray Leviathan (Wounded)" so this new one would be the "White Leviathan (Green Shadows, White Whale)."

Next, the "Red Leviathan," a continued exploration of my strange obsession with innards and intestines. This one is acrylic paint and ink on found paper and measures 14.75 inches by 10 inches.

Finally, a simple piece, and something my wife called "The essence of Queequeg." Any regular visitor to this blog knows how tremendously fond I am of that cannibal, so I was curious to see what a simple painting of Queequeg against a bright blue background would look like. I am really fond of how it turned out. It is indeed "the essence of Queequeg."

This one is 7.75 inches by 10.75 inches, acrylic paint, colored pencil and ink on found paper.

None of these will be in the book or anything, so they're basically just ephemera or studies or whatever. They are all available in the Etsy shop. All in all, it was quite nice to give myself a day to relax and paint purely for fun.


  1. I love Queequeg, too; he is my favorite literary exemplar of unconditional domestic love.

  2. It's always fascinating to see how much I grow when I take just one small step outside my box of boundaries... It's hardly ever just one step!

  3. I could not agree more, Elizabeth. There are so many reasons that painting or drawing Queequeg brings me great joy. There are a few pieces coming up (already done, scanned, and in the queue to be posted in the next week) of Queequeg as he struggles with his illness, asks for his coffin, and miraculously recovers and I am rather proud of them.

    I especially like your mention of his "unconditional domestic love" as well. Something that is often overlooked or ignored by readers.

  4. Buck, that is a wonderfully perceptive way of framing what I could not quite find the words for. I am still inside this whole thing, still traveling along, so I generally only see the whole journey in terms of what is immediately in front of my own eyes. I haven't yet had much time to step back and take in the whole thing yet, to get some perspective and see just how far it has taken me yet. This was one of those rare times when I did so and I was just amazed. I am nearing the end now, so I think things are becoming clearer and the final (for now) shape is growing more apparent. Still, I never could have imagined I would enjoy the brush so much, and actually look forward to painting with joy instead of terror and stress.

  5. This is perhaps my favorite passage from any book, ever: "How it is I know not; but there is no place like a bed for confidential disclosures between friends. Man and wife, they say, there open the very bottom of their souls to each other; and some old couples often lie and chat over old times till nearly morning. Thus, then in our hearts' honeymoon, lay I and Queequeg—a cosy, loving pair."

  6. Simple and sweet. I’m thinking of starting another blog or five pretty soon, and I’ll definitely consider this theme. Keep ‘em coming!

  7. I certainly will, anonymous. I completed page 474 last night so they will keep coming for at least 78 more pages.


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.