Detail from "Wild Horses"
Before I put anything down on paper and pictures are still sorts of ideas in my head, I think they sometimes look like the picture above---a mess of details, specific shapes and colors, but no apparent object or message.
It's always a tough decision for me to take that messy picture in my head in only one of two directions: I could stop there, and flesh out the beautiful shapes I see, and the layering of textures and colors, loving the process as I create, and how the marks make a picture all their own. It's a pretty new way of doing the same thing I've done all my life.
I remember even back in third grade I'd draw some creature I made up. Something with a big, heavy body, then long arms and a goofy face. "What is it?" Someone would ask. "Just something I made up," I'd say. And that was usually the end of the conversation. "Can you draw a Panda Bear?" And I'd draw a happy-go-lucky Panda.
In junior high when the same thing would happen ("What is it?" "It's just that---I made it up."), and someone would ask "Can you draw me?" I'd either feel like I had to prove that I could draw (because, obviously, drawing things that were made up didn't really prove anything about my drawing skills) and I'd end up only getting a partial portrait done in class, or I'd draw them as a sort of cartoon, and then they'd be offended. "What'd I do?" I'd ask myself. I'd never ask the offended what was wrong, because everyone thought it was obvious, too. "I don't get it."
Of course I didn't entirely "make up" the creatures I drew. I thought I was just making them up, but I only knew to draw a feathery wing on a slithery back, because I'd seen a feathery wing and a slithery back before. Not together, of course, but I subconciously put big and small pieces of other things together to make something new.
This picture is the same kind of thing. I've taken elements used in all sorts of artwork: faint lines, bold lines, pencil lines, pen lines, areas of textured paint, torn pieces of colored paper, imprints on the page, etc. These are techniques used by artists of "realism" to make a face, or a flower, a dog, or a bowl of fruit. This picture is a celebration of shapes, symbols, values, composition and exploration. I love sharing the process of an image, because so much of the process is usually hidden in a picture. For me, the process shows that the picture was made by a person. It shares a sense of time and movement. This picture seems more alive to me than others.
When I have this mess of imagery and excitement inside me, that wants to become a picture, I could choose to celebrate the parts, or I could develop it a different way and find other connections between the parts---what object do these pieces make together? And then I usually end up with a figurative picture, or a story of some sort.
I love that, even though the only recognizable figure in this picture is a pink horse, there is still a story and several figures in this picture. I can't escape 'em!
"Wild Horses" is the first in a series of images I'm going to be making prints from. I'm on the lookout for high quality print presses, that use archival inks and papers. I want to share a personal experience with everyone that wants to see it, or have their own copy.
"Wild Horses" was made on my front porch, in the wind, with my boy, using: charcoal pencils, gouache, crayons, tracing paper, carbon paper, pencils, pens, ink, glue, scrapbook paper, erasers and tape. It was made on 7x9" Fabriano artist paper, mounted on mat board.