August 31, 2013

Remembering "Remembering New York"

In my ongoing project of revising and completing drawings from my notebooks, I came across the sketch I made that became two versions of the painting “Remembering New York.” One of these paintings ended up in the collection of the late Mark Coplan and the other is in a private collection in New Jersey. The painting in the New Jersey collection was an improvement over the one in the Coplan collection, I believe, so posted that at right. The painting was special in that it was the very first in a series of over a hundred 8" and 9" square figurative works that were later part of my four part poetry book, Moments in Light and Shadows. The poem that accompanied that painting is attached as well.

When finishing these drawings, I’ve had to first decide on the media and whether or not to leave it black and white, which I usually do, or experiment with colors. In large part, the choice of medium has been a largely pragmatic concern. Pencil sketches could become more detailed pencil drawings. Charcoal and conte’s had to be revised in the same medium but could sometimes include an overlay of color. Lightly sketched pencils could become just about anything else. One determinant of medium was the condition of the original drawing. Since I used them as material for paintings, there were sometimes small spots of paint or oil on the surface. These had to be scraped down if they were superficial (thrown away if they were not) and the drawing then finished with thick coats of pastels to hid the patches. I wanted to complete the sketch for “Remembering New York,” as a detailed pencil drawing, but alas! There was a small spot not far from the figure which had to be disguised with heavier materials. So the spiritual drawing of the woman with her back turned to face the window to New York became a charcoal and pastel drawing. The poem:

Impassive walls of the City

In grey-pink rectangular light

Ghosts of Abstract Expressionists

Define the boundaries of a hard-edged puzzle

Pulling towards the memory of tales untold

While time pushes sentiment away

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