Cross Country Drawings
I have just returned from a long road trip across America. Specifically driving from Yucca Valley, here in the Mojave Desert, all the way to Boothbay, Maine. The reason for the drive was to transport my 22 pound Maine Coon cat back to the state of his breed and birth, for a family vacation on the cool coast of Maine. My partner proclaimed that a Maine Coon Cat would suffer irreparable phycological harm by being placed in a cat kennel and put on an air plane. Not being able to convince her that wasn’t in the cards, I foolishly agreed to drive. The distance was 3800 miles. The return leg was down the eastern seaboard to Tennessee and then back to the desert on Interstate 40, and then 10. All in all a 8000 mile drive. Average temperature, except for Maine, was in the triple digits. Poor. Very poor. To keep productive, I built on my experience from my trip last year up to Alaska, where I learned to make digital map art on the road. The subjects were the the places I was seeing and experiencing. This digital work is now posted on my site as Digital Map Art 2. I am working on a statement that explains this approach, but it is not complete, yet.
In any event, even more importantly, and new for me this summer, was to keep the momentum I had from creating all the drawings on paper I had made in Los Angles where I was away from my studio and wanted to take advantage of the time on hand as I awaited numerous health appointments at UCLA. The drawing series I made in LA, and finished when I got home is viewable at the top of the Works On Paper tab on my website.
This latest batch of drawings/works on paper I have titled Cross County Drawings. They are drawn in the field, using graphite, permanent markers, colored pencils, and special ink markers. When I get back to my studio I complete them by adding glitter, glitter glue, beads, heishi and a constantly evolving set of additional materials that can be dropped, and/or arranged on the bristol heavy sheets of paper I am using. Four, five years ago, when I started using glitter, I would drop it into wet paint. I now realize I can drop the materials onto dry paper and then fix them with clear spray.
I feel these drawings show me that using simple lines and spelling out words may be a very viable approach for my long abiding interest in places and geography. I have been slowly realizing that most people can't interpret my paintings because they are not well versed in maps or history. I remember something about American students having the weakest ability to recognize geographies, something that I tried to improve when I was doing artists-in-schools and teaching my Art Through Geography classes.
In any event, all this reflection has lead me to start labelling the places I depict, and if there is a story to tell, I literally now write it down in my own words on the sheet of paper. So now I am labeling places and referencing history in paragraphs of my own writing. I am happy with this new addition to my process and I think it is likely that I will continue to pursue this direction.