Friday, April 10, 2015

Threshold Between Notation and Notable

Leonardo da Vinci, Old Man and Water Studies, c. 1513

Lately, I have been thinking about how to maximizing visual exploration. When I was younger I felt I had more time to explore. How does one squeeze extra into less time? What kind of drawing best gets to the heart of a subject quickly and yields new insight? These questions caused me to think more about the thumbnail sketch.

As a student I dreaded thumbnail drawing and sensed many of my peers felt a similar way. These drawings often looked unsubstantial. It seemed to be about getting an idea out with little resolution. No matter how good the draftsman, I found the drawings fundamentally lacking. Even the masters most gestural drawings seem larger and more directed. This caused me to re-examine Leonardo da Vinci's drawings. I tried to find the more wobbly and expedient looking drawings. I was struck how he could focus on the action of phenomena such as the movement of water (shown above) as well as how he would doggedly pursue a subject (e.g. as seen in the studies for the Trivulzio Monument). Da Vinci's sketchbook becomes a symbol of monumental knowledge.

Leonardo da Vinci, Study for the Trivulzio Monument, c. 1508

Leonardo set a high bar for quality in a drawing journal. Perhaps for this reason, many of those artistically inclined have a drive to make the sketchbook an impressive object. The authority of the book as a form may give rise to the feeling that it must be filled in a spectacular way (leading viewers to continue to turn pages). For me this approach has been problematic. While the sketchbook is useful, it was not a format I wanted to invest a large amount of energy, and at times the thought of hundreds of blank pages felt like a trap.

Recently, I have been more devoted to digital drawing. It is appealing because elements can be shifted, re-arranged, and colors can be tested and altered while different versions may be saved. I enjoy the freedom this allows. However, I have found that the little tag sized drawings have a place. The thumbnail drawing does not require a book, special paper, or almost any other kind of barrier between the mind and hand.

One of the benefits of experience is that one is able to evolve past earlier biases. I held on to a prior assumption that thumbnails sketches were not colorful. Perhaps this is because color has a greater psychological connection with painting. Below are a collection of little drawings. While drawing quickly, here I labored in a way I had not previously. The marker became like a brush and in each drawing something new was discovered. While the discoveries did not seem monumental, my thinking was shifted, I found little surprises, and I was able to see potential. Perhaps this is like Leonardo's water study, at the time it was made his sketch may not have seemed like much. However, the drawing did lead Leonardo further down the river toward wider deeper currents.

Thumbnail Collection, 2015

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

In Like a Lion, Out Like a Lamb

March slipped by without posting, but I have been preoccupied. There was an exhibit in Philadelphia (reviewed By Chip Schwartz in Knight Arts). Many thumbnail drawings were accomplished (more on that soon). Much art was added to Pinterest (mostly sculpture and work by the Fauves). Through the ups and downs of March, I tried to stay calm waiting for warmth of Spring.


A few thumbnail sketches from March.

Looking forward to Spring.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Homage to the Green Light

There is a light across the street from my house, and it is in such stark contrast to the other lights that it holds my attention. It provides a baring like that of the north star and a unique brilliance. At first I did not know that there was a literary connection between a green light and the sentiments (i.e. sense of longing and hope) that held sway over me. However, I was not surprised to find that a similar light is featured prominently in F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby and it has much the same impact. This is discussed on NPR's program Fresh Air with Terry Gross. In the segment How 'Gatsby' Went From A Moldering Flop To A Great American Novel, Gross illuminates the charged meaning of the light.

"The Green Light"



At 11 minutes and 56 seconds into the program Terry Gross states "one of the most famous things about The Great Gatsby is that Gatsby is always looking across Long Island Sound at the dock where Daisy lives. And he sees the green light that she has on at night on the dock. And he's always looking at that light and yearning for his dream - for her."

Gross makes it clear that a beacon can shine more than literal light. With a mind willing to venture to emotional realms, the light symbolizes the meditative place and connections needed to bring forth insight and far reaching speculation. Prior to my conscious knowledge of Fitzgerald's green light, I began to created my own homage to this emerald glow. This was an exercise not just to test out a range of greens but to call on feelings I did not yet have words for.

Kip Deeds, Homage to the Green Light, Watercolor, Ink, Acrylic Paint, and Collage




Friday, February 6, 2015

Facebook Art Challenge Part 5

The following are my offerings for the last day of the Facebook art challenge. Two of the works were created because I was tempted by a commercial for the Roto Zip. The commercial made it seem like you could cut shapes in wood as easy as cutting paper with scissors. Initially I wanted to cut shapes out of wood for relief prints. However, while at a residency, I became intrigued by the shapes of the scraps from my collage work. Putting the best scraps together, I decided to recreate them in wood. This is the only time I used the Roto Zip. However, I had many fun outings to Lowe's while making these sculptural paintings. 
I called the scraps "Stuffing" and the first work has this as the title. Also included is a work in progress view of Stuffing. The second image uses the the leftover shape from cutting out the "stuffing". It looked to me a bit like Great Britain and I had liked Billy Bragg's song "New England". I particularly liked the song because of the way he said "a new England" rather than "New England" (another place altogether). This is a simple but big difference. So my piece is titled A New England.
The last work shown here is a drawing/ painting where I use the shapes from Stuffing. It is titled Spring Training

Kip Deeds, Stuffing, 48"x 42"x 2 3/4", Acrylic & Collage On Wood, 2009

Kip Deeds, Stuffing as it was being built
Kip Deeds, A New England, 42"x 23"x 2", Acrylic & Collage On Wood, 2009
Kip Deeds, Spring Training, 16" x 12 1/4", Watercolor, Acrylic, ink, & Collage, 2009

Lastly, I nominated Marcus Howell for this challenge. Marcus and I hung out and made prints for three years at the University of Illinois 1998-2001. Marcus's work is often dark, but he is a skilled draftsman and printmaker who has a distinct perspective about social justice that he applies to his narrative work (also see Sue Coe). Those that are corrupt or suffer from vanity do not escape their moral short comings. Below I am pictured in front of one of his printed works.

Kip with Marcus Howell's artwork
Marcus Howell, Magical Apparition, Mixed Media Mono-print 



Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Facebook Art Challenge Part 4

(Note: The challenge required posting 3 images of artwork a day for five days and then nominating another artist to do the same.)

My Facebook art challenge day 4 featured characters I had either invented or developed in a unique way. Because I had documented two out of three of these figures previously on this blog, I will not repeat myself.  However, offered here are links to these posts featuring Mr. Wisor and Phil Poppin. Sophia (as seen below) was the last representative shown on day 4. A friend recently asked me about Sophia, and I replied: "With regard to Sophia, she is associated with wisdom and this was my grandmother's name. Also when reading about Sophia, I found that for those that do not understand wisdom Sophia takes on the appearance of a haggard old woman where as her beauty becomes more apparent for those who understand wisdom."

Kip Deeds, Sophia, Ink and Collage, 2014

Next, I nominated artist Walter Andersons for this art challenge. In 1997 I drove out to Chicago for the first time, Walter was among several people that saved me. I had very little planned. Walter, barely knowing me, spent a free day with me and took me around town in style. Below is a post card I have kept pinned to my bulletin board since 1999. The front features one of Walter's paintings. Andersons's art often features meticulous studies of photocopied source material (often art related images or text). This content is coupled with an abstract background. Here painting enlivens subject matter that, being derived from photocopies, are often several generations from its source. These images offer qualities and observations that are both reflective and altogether new. Included are two links to Walter's artwork, one site features paintings from the late 1990's and another presents more recent offerings.

Front (painting by Walter Andersons) and back of exhibition post card from 1999

Friday, January 30, 2015

Facebook Challenge Part 3

My Facebook art challenge day 3 featured performance art. This work was not made specifically to be exhibited. The drawing/painting/collage was made for the joy of seeing possibilities. The work presented here had holes cut in it, and the holes become planets, worlds, or vistas that can be seen as it is held up. I took the drawing outside, clowned around a little, and had pictures taken of me with it. Along with the planet drawing, is a ball of paint I have been building and liken it to making a planet. It is built like a snowball from my leftover acrylic paint. The last image here is likely what inspired the others. It is a print in a series of prints (all can be found on my website). It includes a circular etching made on a plate that Sharon Massey gave me. Who wouldn't want to make a circular etching if you were given a cut copper plate?

Below are the four images I posted for the challenge (I needed an extra image of me clowning around). 





As a part of the challenge, I next nominated Richard Barlow as well as metals artist Kit Burke-Smith. Although these artists have yet to take up the challenge, below is an image by Barlow and here is a link to a recent interview with Burke-Smith (Kit is also on Etsy).

Richard Barlow, 120" x 120", Media: sequins and latex, 2015

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Facebook Challenge Part 2

Day two of my Facebook Art Challenge (post 3 images a day for 5 days) featured large collage works. Two of the works depict a boat I had named the Arkadelphia (named after a street I passed in Alabama, I later created a little story about it's history). After making the first image with a series of black and white printed portraits, I later wanted to try printing the figures in color and created the second image.
Kip Deeds, Moving Company, Collage Mounted on Canvas, 60" x 72", 2005

Kip Deeds, Poe Procession, Collage Mounted on Canvas, 46" x 61", 2009

The third image included was a portrait of Goethe after a sketch by Johann Heinrich Wilhelm Tischbein. I learned a lot making this image. Tischbein's drawing wonderfully captures Goethe in a private moment. It functions the way a sketch does best (i.e. getting to the essence quickly). However, when interpreting the image I had to decide wether or not to make corrections (I was not sketching). I fixed the perspective in the chair and in doing so I think the drawing lost some freshness and became more mechanical. That being said, all the other information I added created a new realm, one that I think Goethe would appreciate.
Kip Deeds, Goethe, Ink, Collage, and Relief Print on Canvas, 45" x 50", 2009

Next I nominated Rachel Welling to participate in this illustrious FB challenge (3 images a day for 5 days). I met Rachel at the Vermont Studio Center in 2003 and I am pleased to see her work grow and grow. Below is a sample of her work.
Rachel Welling, A Calling, ink and acrylic on paper, 17" X 11", 2011-2014