Prelude Owl – Variation #15, ink & surface alteration over digitally altered print of earlier state.



Well Hello –


Sorry I’ve been missing for a bit. I’ve started back in on several really tough Paterson views, and am now battling a drawing with fine moves – and some of the worst too. I’m constantly mystified by where, and how fine the line is between the two!


I’ll keep at it, and will have show & tell for you soon. Meanwhile, here is a rather satisfied looking owl. He had been sitting in his tree for more than 2 years, waiting for me to finish him, but I just couldn’t figure it out. Last week I finally managed to, and now it strikes me that telling you how I did this drawing gives me the perfect chance to answer some of the questions I’ve been asked about how I do what I do.


To begin with, our little owl is the latest in a series of variations, all starting where this next one also stalled. Yeah, I know, it happens a lot. I really, really liked this big owl though, even without a beak. I didn’t want to leave him that way! So, I took a photograph of him, printed several copies and started sketching on them to sort out my next moves. It didn’t take me long to realize there were a number ways forward, with several worth trying. I also discovered that ink looks just fine on top of a laser printed drawing, which makes sense in retrospect; both the toner in my printer and the pigment in my ink are carbon based.




You’ve got to love technology, and I must confess, I particularly appreciate what I can do in Photoshop. Here is the same owl reversed and placed in a horizontal format. One of the sure fire rules for making a picture more interesting is to keep the center of interest off center, which I’ve done. I’ve also tilted the owl so he no longer seems so static.




If you haven’t realized it by now, I like messing with things. Still in Photoshop, I began fooling around with separating the really dark parts of this drawing from the lighter gray areas. Then I exaggerated and compressed the variation in tone in those same grays. I also removed the edges of the old drawing. The end result, ready to be printed and drawn upon, looked like this:




The next question, of course, was what to do next. I had the answer waiting. In telling you this tale, I’ve simplified the sequence of events. The truth is, after I flipped the owl but before I started messing with his grays, I did some digital sketching on him (yet again in Photoshop). This is such a versatile way to work out ideas (nothing is permanent until I make it so), and there are textures you can achieve that you can’t get in ink! It’s not uncommon for me to now combine actual drawing with ink and digital drawing, taking advantage of both. In this case though, early in my exploration of this method, I was only trying to come up with a jumping off point to start my new drawing. My rough sketch is below, as it was printed out – with some actual cut and paste ink work also scotch-taped on top of it. We’ll talk about that in a moment but first, what’s up with that blue arrow and all of the circles?




Well, the circles indicate some of the basic marks I make when drawing in Photoshop. I have a great fondness for grainy black lines, and boy can you do ’em this way. The same brush tool that made the smaller lines (l’ve circled examples in a couple of areas) also made the really big one that runs across the owl’s middle (also circled). Of course, my lines don’t have to be grainy. For instance, as I was working out this rough guide, I thought the owl (with his delicate textures) might look fetching sitting in dark, silhouetted branches. So I threw in some BIG black marks to get a crude idea of how that might appear. The circle at furthest left indicates one of these. I was on to something, but realized those massive black marks were far too powerful. I would have to address that in the real drawing, but for the moment, I simply threw in a few blurry white lines and called it good enough.


I know it seems like I do a lot of planning. Sometimes that’s true and sometimes not. Sometimes I wish I had! However I start out, happenstance often ends up playing a key role. The trick has been to cultivate recognizing such opportunity. In this instance, at the same time that I was working out how to launch my owl, I was also experimenting with masking fluid, which is nothing more than dilute liquid latex that can be brushed on paper. Watercolorists use it to block out areas they want to keep free of paint. I figured it would work with ink too, so I tried a test: first, I lightly dampened a scrap of drawing paper, then I applied masking fluid in a few random shapes. After they had dried, I laid broad strokes of black ink over them, and once that had dried, I peeled off the latex. It worked perfectly.


Now comes the fortunate moment: my test sheet was still laying on my drawing table when I absentmindedly plopped the printout of my new digital owl down. Well would you look at that – there was my sketch with its big black digital marks and blurry white lines, and beside it was my test sheet with big black brush strokes and bold, slightly fuzzy white marks. Happenstance is rarely this blatant! I quickly cut out some of those ink marks and taped them on top of the black marks in my digital sketch – the blue arrow (look again at the photo above) is pointing at them.


Here is the drawing I made, using my digital sketch as a guide. Do you see what I mean about how nicely the laser printed under layer and the actual ink work combine?




I did a nice job with my grainy lines, and added more of them in the branches to help tie the whole drawing together. The intensely graphic black and white mark making in the tree worried me, but adding texture helped tone it down somewhat.


This was a great start . . . and it’s where I got stuck. I couldn’t figure out how to finish the owl, and an art buddy said the branch in the upper left looked like a boxing glove hitting my damned bird. He was right of course. Poop.


While our drawing stews, I’ve got another annotated picture for you. Hey, I did it in Photoshop too, and it’s the starting point for explaining how I made grainy texture.




Okay, now you see how obsessive I can be! Below is a view of the back our drawing (I still need to get rid of the wrinkling). The blue circles indicate portions of areas where I punched through with my pushpin over and over. . . and over. Doing this takes time, but creates a fine, nubby texture on the front side. If I then drag and scrub over this with a small, almost dry brush, the raised texture picks up ink and I have my wonderfully grainy lines. I’ve since worked out an easier way to achieve a similar effect, but I still do a lot of punching. For one thing, it’s brilliantly effective for creating blind texture that makes subtle grainy shadows in areas that remain paper white.


The orange circles focus on two spots where I indented the back of the sheet with a round-tipped burnishing tool. This created fields of larger knobs on the front, but this time in areas of dark or black ink! If you look at the tree trunk and branches at the bottom edge of our drawing (above, and circled), you can see where I ever so cautiously sanded the raised knobs with 320 grit sandpaper. The result is coarser, grainy white texture within the dark. I also used this same treatment on that unfortunate boxing glove to help break it up (you can see it in the finished drawing either at the beginning or the end of this post).




Here is one of many failed attempts to find a finish for our stalled owl. I was once again sketching digitally, this time over a scan of the actual drawing, and just couldn’t see a way forward. Another of those fine lines I keep running into (running over, completely missing?) is the one that separates what is suggestive and works from what is disjointed and distracting.




My creative vow for 2015 is to deal with all of my half finished drawings. There are too many and I want them done or gone. That I don’t care which way it goes, is both a relief, and evidence of a surprising lack of concern. I’ve completed almost 400 owls for example. If a few more don’t make it, who’s gonna care? What this really means is that I can try anything I want on any drawing that has become sacrificial. This sounds an awful lot like an equation for a few unpredictable successes, in amongst train wrecks I won’t lose sleep over!


The instant I slapped down a dark, careless background, it anchored this image. The potent graphic of the tree finally settled in and my owl began to click. I fattened him up a bit, and fussed in a few more marks to suggest feather structure and the barred/mottled patterning I so love in these birds.


Take a good look at my finished drawing again; did you consider before now how some of the outlines of the branches go right into our owl, or that the grainy line that defines his body shape on the left passes right across what was once a silly boxing glove trying to knock him out? One great secret in many of my drawings – and it’s something you won’t notice if I do it right –  is that objects and surroundings are often visible through each other. I’m not sure why it works, but I realized long ago that it makes my pictures seem not like frozen moments, but instead as if they might suddenly start moving. I work hard to employ this illusion, which as a side benefit, also adds tremendously to the sense of depth and mood.


There are so many fine lines I have to creatively contend with. Often they trip me up, but now and then, I find the necessary small moves that make a fine line my finish line.




Bye for now – – – – Your Buddy Bill


PS: here are related owls:  http://billloganart.com/drawings/prelude-and-claw-hand-owls/


PPS: to expand these images and see more detail, click READ FULL ARTICLE, immediately below.


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Nope, not even close. The far end of the chasm looks more like the Winter Queen’s palace. There are two ice bridges. The first is way back in and pretty high up, where the freezing spray from the falls has utterly entombed a big tree trunk jammed across the gorge. The second one is down low, at the foot of the falls. It encases boulders, spans the last small plunge in the chasm and looks sort of like stacked, slightly melted ice cream scoops.


The ice has built up so spectacularly and remained only because the river has been too low to flush it all out. Soon this will change. When the big thaw hits, the Great Falls will thunder. The chasm will clear and those huge boulders will be submerged. Can you imagine? It will be a spectacle of a different sort then!


Take care all –


Your Buddy Bill —————————-


I’ve added 14 new cat pictures to the 3rd page of DRAWINGS/RECENT ADDITIONS  (I put them there to keep other work up front on the first page). If you go to this link (http://billloganart.com/drawings/recent-additions/page/3/), and start with the cat indicated below, you’ll see mark making I like. Cats #150, 152, 155, 161 and 162 are particular favorites.


site Instructions copy



Good Morning All –


On this dreary Wednesday morning, I have GREAT NEWS! Director Giacomo DeStefano – of the Paterson Museum – has just extended my buddy Bob and me a huge compliment; we now have an exhibition of our work portraying Paterson, NJ planned for November through December of this year – the whole holiday season. Can you believe it? I feel deeply grateful, and am thrilled.


Also, it could be that the weather is about to turn. If we do indeed have sun and temperatures hitting the 40’s next week, I just might begin painting outdoors again, in Paterson, with a new sense of deadline and half of a very beautiful exhibition space to fill.


This is gonna be one fine spring!


Your Buddy Bill ———————


My Sweetie left in the frigid darkness early this morning for a long business trip to Australia! It’s an adventure into summer for her and I’m thrilled she’ll have it, but It’s just first cup of tea time and I’m already lonely. Geez, how pathetic am I?


I have several weeks to focus completely on art making. I’m going to punch it for all I’m worth, and work on everything but cats!


The day is glum, more snow is coming, and we’ve been frozen and buried for so long the deer are desperate. One genius doe (who will surely survive the winter) has figured out how to raid our bird feeder. No kidding, we saw her do it yesterday; straining to stick her tongue in the feeding holes! She was the only one who could reach, and was obviously back during the night – the feeder’s almost empty and just look at the mess she left under it!


Stay snug everyone –


Your Buddy Bill————————-




I’ve just uploaded 50 cat drawings to my website – from elegant to ludicrous! That makes almost 80 new drawings posted in just a month! There are now 3 pages of them to see. The navigation button to each is obvious once you get there: http://billloganart.com/drawings/recent-additions/


VIEWING TIP: you’ll see that I often go through a number of variations each time I chase a particular image. Maybe I’m reaching for just the right gesture, or I’m not sure how a drawing should be until I’ve tried it a few different times and ways. Sometimes, I have the urge to make a strong mark or move, which then must have a drawing (or several of them) built around it. It’s particularly fun to follow a mark as it migrates and changes from one drawing to the next!


Here’s an example of what I mean: in this sketchy cat, two really bold marks govern the whole image. The first is the broad swipe that starts at the tip of the tail and flows all the way forward under the belly and up past the cheek. The second mark – just as potent – finishes off one ear. If we took these two out, there would hardly be anything left!


Oh, and I have one more curious tidbit: before making the two big marks, I flooded my paper with rubbing alcohol, which acts as an odd sort of half resist, half diluent to my ink, causing it to both bead up and at the same time really, really penetrate into the sheet. I don’t get why this happens, and I’m just as puzzled that solid black ink, when it sinks so deeply into my paper, turns a decidedly cool shade of gray. I like that it does, but it’s so weird!



Now, let’s go to the next drawing. While it’s much the same in form and gesture, more time has been spent working out the accompanying moves – I’ve greatly increased the visual texture in this drawing by adding a variety of different marks that act in contrast to the two big ones. Some were made with a very ragged, split-tipped brush that was dragged along when it was almost dry. Other marks are even more scrubby-looking (consider the legs for instance). These were done via transfer drawing: I saturated a small piece of paper with ink, laid it wet side down on top of my drawing, and drew/scrapped the legs with my fingernail on the back of it. The pressure recorded my gestures in ink pressed onto the drawing’s surface – and even into it, yet again creating marvelous, cool gray tones!



And this is where things stand several drawings later: our kitty is a little more simplified again, is grainier still and has gained a good deal of graphic punch. That top mark now carries clear across the head, is a very aggressive move, and sets up both the ears and an angry brow. The legs are again achieved via transfer drawing, this time done with both a finger tip (the fat gray lines) and the tip of a brush handle.



The  belly swipe disappears in the very next drawing, but the big, black brows are still there. This cat is either related to Groucho Marx, or he’s a bandito pissed off because he’s lost his six shooter and sombrero.



And finally, while this kitty keeps his brow and bad cat attitude, the rest of him has deconstructed into a gritty, suggestive funk. I don’t ever want to meet this dude!



PS: to expand these images and see more detail, click READ FULL ARTICLE, immediately below.

Good Morning All –


After my last post, and further study of drawings with ugly in them that just makes them stronger – I decided to chase after ugly myself. No tricks or cleverness, almost no attempt at delicacy and just two ragged brushes that seemed too big and so abused that they couldn’t hold tips. Bam, slash, drag and scrap . . . and for the most part, sheet after sheet got pitched on the floor. I bet I burned through almost 50 of ’em, but now and then, a drawing held together, enough so at least that I kept it. Offered here, with all faults, are quick studio point-n-shoots of 5 from yesterday and earlier this morning.


There are still 20 or so sheets of paper left before I’m completely out. Now they’re gonna get it too.


The art store loves me,


Your Buddy Bill ————————–



Quite some time ago, I began to realize that most of art I see and particularly like has ugly in it; in fact, sometimes it’s REALLY ugly. This is still an evolving revelation for me, especially apt right now, since I continue to be in one of the more profound creative slumps I’ve experienced. What has been happening is that the harder I try, the harder it seems, the more critical I get – and the less sensitive my effort becomes. If you’ve kept up with my latest posts, you know I’ve been doing a lot of quick, almost throwaway, cats in an attempt to maintain at least some headway. Now even they are getting ugly! What’s puzzling is that I have this nagging suspicion that some of my ugly isn’t half bad. Is it beginning to become something else?


Oh dear, confusion of this magnitude makes my head feel like it might pop. Don’t worry, it won’t. I must understand and get through this – and will. Right now, I’m flattening 30 more awkward kitties, with the hope that I’ll see them differently afterwards. Whether I do or not, I’ll scan and post a few for you to see too. And I promise that I’ll start putting up work besides cats again soon!


Meanwhile, I’ve been looking at art by others that speaks to my present state. I want to understand why ugly works.


EXAMPLE 1: here are two of the most horrible, carelessly realized figures I could imagine. I would be appalled if I had done them, yet these guys are in the middle of a famous etching by one of the finest artists ever to work within that medium. Can you guess who?



Here’s the whole thing, by James Abbot McNeil Whistler. It’s one of a suite of etchings portraying the Thames, is surprisingly small in real life and obsessive in its detail. What’s more, that detail is where you would never expect or instinctively put it. If Whistler had fully rendered this image, we would have been overwhelmed. Instead, everything in the river and on this side of it (except for some aspects of the fellow in front) is, well, crudely done! What demands particular thought, is that our gaze skips right over that, when you would think it should stall! I don’t know why it doesn’t, but my guess is that there’s not enough to hold our attention until we get to the far side of the river. Whistler has lured us in, and given us a supreme sense of space and breathing room within an image that could all too easily have become claustrophobic.



EXAMPLES 2 & 3: up front, I’ll tell you the next two pictures are by Albrecht Durer! This guy could draw and paint anything, yet his brushwork here looks muddy and clumsy as hell. Some of his foliage in the second image looks as if it was done by a kindergartener with poster paint and a sponge. The stonework is cockeyed, and I don’t know what that post-like thing at left is supposed to be. Yuck.



Okay, these are the full views. Both are clearly sketches or studies, thus some looseness or lack of concern on Durer’s part must be allowed. What so strikes me though – and keeps me coming back time and again – is how utterly unenchanting these pictures are. It’s as if Durer went out of his way to make them so. In his hands, muddy marks and dull, rough painting were the honest way to capture truth.


I’m encountering similar scenes in my own exploration of Paterson, NJ. They’re not pretty, yet they’re bleakly, perfectly real. I must work especially hard to appreciate anything in them. I try, and keep discovering powerful poetry that surprises and perplexes me.




THE LAST TWO: if you work with ink and a brush, folks are gonna tell you it looks Japanese. I kind of hate that. A hand and brushes, plus ink and paper, equals marks anyone might make, but a whole lot of Japanese artists have done great things with this simple medium, so you get what you get. I just give up when people make such comments and say they may be right. I thank them too, because they’re always trying to genuinely engage in dialogue (and usually trying to compliment me) when they could instead choose not to. Besides, I too admire Japanese art. I look at, collect and study it because there is much to learn.


What follows are two of the most breathtaking examples of ugly I’ve ever come across. The first (just below) is the kind of mark making I salivate over. When you see the whole picture, you’ll agree that in the dash and squiggle of a few moments, this horrible set of moves so brilliantly nailed what they became, that it could never have been done better.



This is a close up of a BIG area of drawing, done with brushes large enough to paint walls with. What inarticulate, ill-favored, sloppy looking marks these are. Or maybe not?



When is the last time you saw turtles practicing archery, or encountered one so generous that it took off it’s own shell to serve as the target? I’m numb with wonder at this drawing, which actually no longer exists. Yep, that’s right, this photo is really of two pages from a Japanese woodblock printed book entitled Sonan gafu (The Sonan Picture Album), by a nineteenth century genius named Onishi Chinnen. He did the original drawings, which were then pasted facedown on sections of cherry plank. Once the glue had dried, the backs of the drawings were moistened and the paper rubbed and rubbed, until the merest skin of it remained, through which the drawings were visible from behind. The block carvers could then see what they were supposed to cut away, and destroyed the drawings even as they used them as their guide. Much of the Japanese ink work we have record of, has come down to us in printed form created in this manner. I look at this scene often, and am profoundly moved both by Chinnen’s economy and the confident sensitivity of his rendering. It has just the right blend of mastery, humor and happenstance. You can tell this guy was fiercely engaged in his work, and loved to draw.



This last photo is a screen-shot of I took while cruising the Internet years ago. It’s of a six-piece folding screen, painted in the 1780’s by an artist named Rosetsu. I know no more, because I can’t find more. In fact I don’t even remember what the original source for this was. What I do know, is that this painting must be at least 15 or 20 feet long (the screen would have acted as a room divider). It’s one of the most astonishing blends of mismatched rendering that I’ve ever seen. In a way, it’s like Whistler’s etching; stunning detail and crudity coexist. The combination – which you would think tragically at odds with itself – is instead seamless, so much so that you don’t question it unless you look long and hard. The monkeys are completely realistic, the stylized, falling water is utterly not, and the rest of the brushwork is huge and at best, vaguely suggestive. This painting ought to fall apart. Why then does it work so well? I wish I could understand it. Maybe one reason I’m struggling with my own work right now is that it’s beginning to present me with similar problems!



Here is one more, mid-sized detail view, to help you truly appreciate just how schizophrenic this painting is.



Most of the time, I feel as if I have such a long way to go, and I’m thrilled by it. Right now, however, I’m just hoping for new baby steps. I’m still standing, albeit a bit lost, as I keep trying to make them. There will be progress to report soon, I’m sure.


Your Buddy Bill ———————-


PS: to expand these images and study them in much larger detail, click READ FULL ARTICLE, immediately below.



Good Morning Gang –


I’m finding my way back into the big work, but around the edges and also as my warm up each morning, I intend to keep cranking cats out. I can’t seem to stop and besides, it’s great exercise. Obviously, this photo is just a composite of quick point-n-shoots, and the drawings still need to be cleaned up, flattened and officially scanned. Still, you get a pretty good peek at a few of the dozen or so kitties I did over the weekend and yesterday.


Do you remember a children’s picture book called, Millions of Cats, by Wanda Gag? It was brilliant, and a little creepy. It gave my little sis nightmares, but I was enthralled with the powerful black & white illustrations. If you google the book’s title, there is a good Wikipedia entry, and when you go to Images, you’ll find some of the wonderful pictures. Even though it was first published in 1928, this book was so popular (and went through so many printings) that it remains easy to find. I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s still in print.


I don’t think I’ll ever manage to draw a million cats, but if I keep going, I might have hundreds of ’em by year’s end. Hey, maybe some day I could have a thousand! A thousand cats. . . wow.


Your Buddy Bill ——————–


PS: Here is the cover and an interior illustration from the book!




This kitty is a lot like those I showed you a few days ago – but only got it’s face yesterday.


Good Morning Everyone!


Before I start today’s ink slinging, I thought I might try your patience by sharing one more round of cats. I’ve had such an enjoyable time with them, but today is my last at it. Not only have I succeeded in making some pretty good pictures, but I’ve also elevated my mood (and with any luck, my creative perceptiveness) considerably. I’m ready to face tough drawings again.


Many of these kitties are still wrinkly, and you can see it in some of these scans. I just couldn’t wait to post them until after they had been flattened. I actually look at my work on this website a lot. Sometimes it’s because this is such a handy archive of images when I need to check something. Usually though, I just like looking. Seeing my work on the Internet makes it seem more official. “This is me,” I think, “Do I like what I see?”


Stay Snug,


Your Buddy Bill ———————-


I really tried to pare down my mark making so that each move counts. It took time and many lesser attempts before I managed to get the second cat just right. Simple looking isn’t simple!



PS: to expand these images and see more detail, click READ FULL ARTICLE, immediately below.

When my sweetie came home from her morning walk last sunday she found this in the path across the back field. I dunno how it got there – could it have been a Hallmark elf?


Happy Valentines day to all,


Your Buddy Bill ———————-



Good Morning All –


I was just now looking at cats I drew long ago . . . well okay, only 16-18 years ago, but in my long journey of art making it feels as if it was in a previous lifetime. I like these particularly, and the two at the top the best, but then I’ve always been fond of dots. I’m tempted to laser print the first one and do some drawing on top of it. Could be fun, right?


Your Buddy Bill ——————-





PS: to expand these images and see more detail, click READ FULL ARTICLE, immediately below.

I’ve been pushing hard, though not on the big, important work I must attend to. My plan for breaking out of the weird creative doldrum I’ve found myself in was to just get at some simple, gleeful, who gives a sh-t drawing. My go-to for this is CATS – they’re almost like cartooning for me. I do them rapidly, over and over, until I get the marks/moves and moment I’m looking for. Think of it as volume drawing, lots and lots of it with maybe a 30% keeper rate. I cut each regular sheet of paper into 3 smaller sheets, so I can burn through a lot and not care.


I’m beginning to feel aired out again, as if I can breath, sling ink and feel right. Tomorrow or this weekend, I’ll settle back into the Paterson Project. One complicated drawing will be abandoned, despite its beautiful moments. I’ll start over, stay loose and try to make the new attempt roll out as easily as my feLINES. Perhaps some of the good parts of that first drawing will end up collaged into the new one too. I’ll keep you updated


Your Buddy Bill ————————–


Here are a few of the 20 or so cats I’ve done this week. I haven’t flattened these drawings yet, so there are some wrinkles, which I know you’ll excuse!




PS: to expand these images and see more detail, click READ FULL ARTICLE, immediately below.

There is always a lot of half finished work in my studio. Much of it will never go farther, and sometimes that bothers me. I wish I could more effectively direct my effort and not waste it. But once or twice a year, when I get seriously stalled, I end up glad it works out this way. It’s usually after I’ve careened into some confusing, creative roadblock. I’m stalled again, probably have been for awhile, don’t know why, and regardless of how many times it’s happened, I’m still a little freaked out. Finally comes the intelligent thought that I should just do something else. Truth told, this feels as much like avoidance or irresponsibility as it does wisdom.


A week or more goes by, and then comes the day I run out of other chores and excuses . . and I still don’t want to get back to work! This is just plain laziness, which is an unfortunate aspect of who I am. Sometimes I give into it, but mostly I fight it, because if I give in too much or for too long, it begins to become a habit. That’s really bad. So, when I need a jumpstart for real and immediately, a good way to do it is by messing with something I don’t care about. Fortunately, I have plenty of incomplete drawings to choose from!


My new project (a suite of drawings portraying Paterson, NJ) is fighting me every mark and moment. I’m feeling more beat up than usual and I’ve already gone through the whole cycle I just told you about. My website is updated. I’ve read a pretty good book, and then most of a so so one. I cleaned some old prints and cut mats for them, picked up my studio, and if you want, you can add another etc. or two’s worth of procrastination as well. This morning I reached the get-my-butt-moving moment. It was time to make marks, period. Here is the drawing I chose to throw under my brush:




Now it looks like this. It’s still a little crazy, I think it’s done and I think like it:




Hopefully, after I’ve allowed myself another day or two of almost careless play, I will have loosened up and have enough momentum to shift back to my real task.


Keep your fingers crossed, okay?


Your Buddy Bill ———————


PS: to expand these images and see more detail, click READ FULL ARTICLE, immediately below.

Hey all –


It’s been a frustrating first week of February, with every single drawing stalled, and nothing but questions about how to get any of ’em going again. There are times when I make glorious, often surprising marks, and others (like now) when my brain and hand can’t seem to manage anything but ugly. So weird. There’s nothing for it but to get back into the trenches and push until I’m suddenly moving. Been here before. Don’t like being stuck in the mud – and never will . But so often, the next thing that happens is unexpected progress!


It’s time to get back at it. I’ve procrastinated for several days, by shooting and adding 30 new drawings to the Website (click on DRAWINGS in the toolbar at top, then RECENT ADDITIONS). Now, I’ll clean my studio (which is a total wreck) until it looks like this. Yep, that’s as organized as it really ever gets. Once I’m set up to make my next mess, paper and ink will fly!




More to come – stay tuned!


Your Buddy Bill ————————–


Hey All –


Over the next week or a bit more, I’ll add a good deal of new work to this website. The creation of some of it has been chronicled here, but I’ve now taken really good photos of the finished drawings. There will also be a selection of somewhat older (and very interesting) work that is only now being uploaded. If you’re so inclined, it will be worthwhile to check in every few days. Go to the DRAWINGS section (find its tab in the toolbar at top), then click RECENT ADDITIONS


Hope you enjoy what you see. I always welcome comments, questions or constructive criticism. You can email me via the CONTACT feature, also in the toolbar at top.


Your Buddy Bill ————————


PS: Here is a detail view from one of the drawings just now going up.



To expand this image and see more detail, click READ FULL ARTICLE, immediately below.

Hey ya –


I went up to my studio this early morn, thinking I would jump right on a difficult new picture I’ve begun. But then I got distracted by a rambunctious Passaic River sketch I’d done on site in failing light months ago. It was another version of the same scene that has so captured my attention, and has been clipped up above where I work, because it clearly had moments, though more bad than good. Before I knew it, I had it down and was going at it; slapping ink down, scrubbing and scrapping right back into it, sanding, cutting, collaging. I was completely heartless.


Now at day’s end, my knuckles are sore from all of the twisting and torquing as I ground into the sheet with sandpaper. My knife is as dull as a child’s safety scissors, and I’m very worried that my drawing might just fall apart when I lift it off the board. That’s tomorrow’s problem!


Hope all is hopping right along,


Your Buddy Bill ——————-


I didn’t shoot the drawing before torturing it, but it’s in this photo of my messy work area.



It looks like this now!


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It’s taken me days and days to literally “make” my way along this river bank, but at last I’m clear over on the right side, with just a few buildings left to do. I must also deal with the foreground (the white area at the bottom left), which will become duckweed with perhaps a bit of trapped, floating debris. Then I’m done!


I had not intended this drawing to become so focused, but I’ve always had a tendency towards detail, probably because I look at the real world just as closely. And let’s face it, I’m really, really good at this sort of picture making! Several years ago, I did a series of illustrations for a book project (sadly remaining unpublished), which defines the extreme I’m capable of. At some point in the nearish future, I will add a new section to this website featuring the entire project, but for now, below the two photos of my current picture, is one of those illustrations. It has been awhile since I’ve looked at it, and I have to admit, I’m kind of impressed. These days, I’m trying very hard to be more expressive (one could even say painterly) in my approach. Still, it’s nice to know I can comfortably slip back a little when I find I’m drifting that way.


Okay, I’m gonna sneak back to the ink for a bit. I also promised to be a good house husband and vacuum. Reidun’s making her incredible pizza tonight and dear friends are coming over. What a great day!


Your Buddy Bill —————————–


Here is the drawing as it stands: I’ve tried to capture the scene in bright sunshine, when shadows are their darkest, and sparkly water and leaves really throw back light.



And this is a more detailed view.



An illustration from The Old Meat Hunterthe book is organized into four sections, which correspond to the seasons of the year. This is the opening image for Spring. It’s done in ink on Clayboard, and the original is only 11 inches wide! It took 3 months.


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The trees in this drawing are taking a whole lot longer than expected, and I’m not there yet. I’m pretty worn out too, but pleased with the rich interplay of textures, tone and shadows. And I’m learning still more about just how much I can rip and scrape into a sheet! Sometimes, when the paper is damp, it feels more like I’m sculpting than drawing, as I literally push around small areas of  surface pulp. In a sense, I’m actually building these trees! Once I’m finished, I’ll have to stabilize areas that I’ve abused so thoroughly that they’ve become fragile. Lots of little tags, flaps and fuzz will have to be glued back down, and I’m sure I’ll need to patch and strengthen some places from the back too.


My new estimate is at least 5 more days to completion. Once I’m through with leaves and branches though, I’ll probably take a break and begin a new drawing, something much looser. I’m thinking it’s time to do a view of the Paterson Great Falls.


I’ll check in again in a couple of days –

Your Buddy Bill ————————-


PS: Here is a quick shot of my drawing as it is now. The photo doesn’t do it justice (too contrasty), but if you compare it with the one I took last wednesday, you can still see I’ve come a ways! To enlarge the images, click READ FULL ARTICLE (in the gray bar), immediately below the photos.



Some of my none artist friends seem to think that being creative means I have some sort of special magic.




Success is hard earned. I try something I think might work, over and over again until either it finally does, I’ve worn myself out – or I’ve figured out different way to keep trying. I chase after whatever move of the moment feels the most right, then I move on to the next moment. Most drawings are made up of a lot of these, with a fair dose of confusion accompanying them. Even if I’m up to something minimal, like a gestural drawing of a cat done with flying moves, I still have to find the few that get it right. I almost always get it wrong first, a bunch of times, with one or two just missing by an unfortunate mark or two. So, it’s mis-stepping across the finish line. I’d like to think that most simple looking, absolutely masterful drawings I’ve seen came about after their creator went through the same thing.


I tear up all my failures and use them for scrap paper so no one discovers how much I stumble.


One thing I’ve been working hard on is trying to accept that the very best drawings can have a little ugly in them. Sometimes, it’s what really defines them, like a slightly flawed vocal character that makes a great singer unforgettable. As obsessive as I am, it’s very, very hard to embrace flaws. Sometimes I put a patch over them and man oh man, am I good at it! You can’t see ’em. You can’t even feel it if you run a finger over them! I sand down and feather their edges. I glue them in perfectly. I’m obsessive, got it? Maybe it’s cheating, but then maybe not. You know those scraped drawings I just mentioned? Lately, I’ve been using bits for my patches! There are at least 5 small ones in the foliage of the last drawing I posted – two were from bad cats and another came from the head of an owl that tanked. Who could have guessed these losers had a future as leaves?


There’s probably yet another lesson in this; maybe about better understanding or assessing the character of marks and texture, outside of context? Oy, like I don’t already have enough to think about?