Turning Pages: Part 1
below: Page: Interior with Stack of Journals (unfinished first version), 2007-2008, watercolor and graphite on Fabriano paper, 4 x 6″
For several years I have been working on a group of drawings called Pages. These small watercolor, graphite, and pen and ink pieces have the same format as the pages in my sketchbook/journals. The 4 x 6” sheets often feel as if they were torn out of the books, but they weren’t. Created on 140 pound hot press Fabriano drawing paper, I mount these sheets to mat board using thin, narrow, double-stick tape (3M #415). Stretched on boards, I tend to work these pieces for months and years. When complete, the drawings are detached from the tape and mat board and live as independent works; framed or unframed.
Each Page is a palimpsest as well. I inscribe thoughts that occur to me as I work; usually plans for developing the drawings, but often times dreams and dream fragments that come back to me during my early morning drawing sessions that develop in states of awakening. The inked inscription that completes the drawing, and usually obliterates the previous pencil writing, revisits a particularly potent dream that has occurred to me during the months that I worked on that drawing.
Many Pages progress simultaneously. Most are seasonal and are linked to changes in the appearance of my subject. I put the drawings away for winter and bring them out for summer (or vice versa). One of the Pages that I started last spring is presented above. I am revisiting the concept now the leaves have returned. Dissatisfied with the drawing when last season ended, I have abandoned work on that sheet. During the execution of the drawing I noticed the paper had lost its sizing, meaning that the page was soaking color like a sponge (see note* at bottom of entry). Sizing keeps the watercolor on the top of the paper where it can be most brilliant. Without sizing, blacks sink in and are less dark. Also, I was also not happy with the light through the window of the drawing. I felt that luminosity was lost when I darkened and overworked the landscape; especially in relation to the interior of the image.
As a way of planning my next attempt, I have photocopied my abandoned drawing: once on a very light setting and again on a dark setting. I used scissors to cut out the window of the light version and mounted over the window of the dark photocopy. The collage below is a study for my new beginning. Hopefully I will find a more ethereal light and less articulated landscape in my next attempt.
In order to explore the subject again in a new Page, I have traced the image onto another sheet of Fabriano paper with the same measurements and have laid out the composition in pencil and light watercolor (image below). This sheet has been mounted it to board and now I will reattempt building the image with layers of watercolor reinforced with pencil.
Simultaneously, this particular composition has been explored at intervals in my daily journal entries. Below are presented sheets from my books that have prefigured or paralleled the work on this particular subject.
To be continued.
*note: Loss of sizing in watercolor paper can often be attributed to storing it incorrectly, often occuring when the paper is stored in plastic wrapping for a period of time.