August 2, 2008

“A critic at my house sees some paintings. Greatly perturbed, he asks for my drawings. My drawings! Never! They are my letters, my secrets.” - Paul Gaugin
I am perusing my sketch books, winnowing out drawings I don’t want, and excising others for matting, shrink-wrapping and framing. In doing so, they do lose their context as a visual travel log to places both pedestrian (subways) and elevated (the museums of Europe). Gone as well are the rough stages of mental processes behind the designs for sculpture and paintings - the letters and secrets that Paul Gaugin referred to. So it is with some trepidation that I effect changes in the historicity of my work Making new artwork from compilations of notes from the past brings the old drawings to a present context divorced from the work of the past that it influenced. In other words, an historian would be confused as to why a painting from a preparatory sketch predates the sketch. Yet when the sketch is altered to become essentially a “new” work it has to be dated as such. Perhaps I’ll use a date range.
In any case, there are some reasons why letting go of secret sketches in binders doesn’t bother me as much as perhaps it should. For one thing, it is highly debatable that there will be historians interested in analyzing my creative thought processes. Also, my sketch books are not terribly organized, but rather are amalgams of ideas, complete and incomplete drawings, and are not in any chronological order anyway. As for the destruction of some work that is not satisfying, I think of the painter Georges Rouault, who shoveled buckets of what he considered his weaker works on paper into a wood-burning stove. So winnowing out is not necessarily a bad thing.
Ever the pragmatist, I am using the frames I got from the Artist’s Round Table warehouse event to preserve the drawings that don’t end up in the equivalent of Rouault’s stove. Taking a break from the gallery and arts festival scene, I’m exhibiting these in my studio for a small group of friends and mentors. In going through these old drawings I see that I’ve come full circle in the year that I’ve started blogging - August 7 will be one year exactly. The revising of drawings was exactly what I was doing in August 2007. Drawing was a nice place to start and always a sound place to return to.

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