Tag: polygons

Polygons Process: Sketchbook to Sketchup to Substrate

The sketches I make when preparing a new Polygons painting look simple, but it takes quite a bit of time to draw each form. I draw, erase, redraw, making smaller and smaller movements as I get closer to what feels right. The way they lean, the balance of obtuse and sharp angles, the height to width ratios, are all gestures invested with emotional resonance. It is deliberately analogous to the way I think of people: I remember them less from their looks or names, and instead think of people in terms of how they feel – how they inhabit space, the emotional resonance of their interactions. Over time, people who feel similarly begin to blur together in my memory.

Once I’m satisfied with the shapes, I reconstruct them in Sketchup and move them around. This program gives me incredible latitude to play with them, establishing spacial relationships that evoke narrative.

When the drawing is resolved, I redraw the whole scene on a flat, bright piece of hot-pressed paper. The final part, which is often the most difficult, is the color. I probably spend more time mixing than anything else – there are very few out-of-the-tube hues in my work. I like gouache for its flatness and ability to be rewet after it dries on the palette.

I’m not yet sure what color these ones will be. The colors I drop in with Sketchup may establish an overall tone, but they rarely carry over to the actual painting.

New work in polygons

New work in polygons

For the last several weeks I’ve been painting instead of making prints. I was feeling a bit of an itch to paint, it’s true, but the primary factor is that printmaking is difficult to do without the right equipment and supplies – supplies too toxic or messy, and equipment too expensive or cumbersome for a one bedroom apartment with two humans and a graceless cat. Gouache is easier. Cleaner, faster, smaller, lighter.

I think all artists fantasize about possessing endless, or at least very generous, resources that allow for the freedom to create whatever is in our heads. But the reality is that restrictions of time, space, and (mother of all) economics often shape our practices. The years for this struggle are long and arduous: it takes time to build relationships with art dealers, curators, consultants, collectors and institutions. Extraordinary work (we hope) must happen within the most quotidian constraints.

Recognizing the practical limitations I must contend with for now, I began painting in gouache. I thought of them as studies, at first: rough, unfinished little things that I would dream up bigger, better, someday. My partner chided me for calling them studies. “What are they studies of?” he asked. I said something very clever, I’m sure, but I was dissembling. I was afraid to invest in them. What if they didn’t work out? I haven’t painted in years. Shortly after that conversation, I stopped calling them studies.

These six are, I believe, a solid beginning. It’s so satisfying to work serially, to give myself a wide but coherent land to explore. I’m excited to see where these take me – which might be the best and most satisfying way to feel in the creative process.