Stone and Flow
I spent four decades in and around rivers, before wondering why I never made pictures of them. It was past time. I could draw quite well and certainly knew my subject. My grand plan was to just go out and sling ink, confident of spectacular results. You can guess which way spectacular really went. I tanked, utterly, repeatedly. I’d had little experience with that, which is not a boast, but rather an admission that I was horribly naïve (and probably under challenged). Now I get it. Now I realize I knew too much about what was in front of me to make drawing it anything other than difficult.
My art friends said to simplify – almost always the wrong advice for me – but I listened because they know a lot and are really good. First I tried tackling less of a scene, and then even still less. Eventually I had screwed my focus down to a single stone in the current. I had also begun at last to understand what I don't like about simplification; it can make it too easy to avoid the hard work of truly understanding and honestly capturing what you’re trying to portray. Don’t get me wrong; succinct observation and distilled method is breathtaking. But there is a pitfall; if you're not careful, you might begin relying too much on familiar moves. Complacency is creative death, or worse - it's blindness.
By autumn of 2009 (it seems much longer ago), I decided to give up trying to draw what was real, in favor of truth. I would make any mark I could that expressed or SYMBOLIZED everything that happens when current meets an unmovable object. I would simplify the damned stone, but not what happened to reflected sunlight, or how the sounds of running water might look, or what it felt like to stand in it. These drawings are small, but in them I tried to find better ways to draw complete pictures. By the following spring, I was more than ready to go back out. If you visit ANY of the drawing categories dated after this series, you’ll see marks that migrated from here and continue to evolve.