How I Draw

At the start of my solo biennial‘s 22-month biennial cycle, I read, think, write, and draw for 5 months. By the end of this 5 months, I will have “sketched”  9+ installation ideas through words and numbers.

For each installation: What does it look like? How is it interactive? How many elements? What are its materials?  Dimensions? I type each idea and its details in paragraph form in my concepts file–as soon as possible. This way each idea, as I have it, isn’t taking up space in my brain. I indicate alternatives at the bottom of each larger idea, just in case I have to make the installations “fit” in the mill or I don’t raise enough $. Before the end of the 5 months, I determine which 9 installations work best as a whole, then calculate initial budget.

So, when I say “I draw,” I don’t draw my installation ideas. I draw to support my biennials. These drawings allow me to immerse myself more deeply into each respective theme and to explore the theme in a whole other way. All my profit from the drawings goes toward the installations (I have a solo exhibit featuring new biennial-theme-inspired conceptual drawings, the year before each biennial, at June Fitzpatrick Gallery in Portland, Maine). The drawings are priced super low, so I am more apt to reach my fundraising goals.

In support of MATTER (my 8th solo biennial), I drew all the matter in our home. I drew a total of 104,663 objects/things, including ourselves and our pets. First, I drew 99 objects. These 99 drawings are actual-size renderings of 99 objects in our home, and the first time I had drawn from life in 20 years.

measuring tape drawing
51413 (measuring tape), 10″x10″, graphite

Then, I drew the rest of the objects in our home, 104,564 objects. This translated to 18 additional (larger and much more involved) drawings. I divided our house into 18 spaces, one space per drawing (for example I did 3 drawings for my studio: the main space, my storage room, and my little hall where I keep my books). Then I drew each object, where it was, at the time I was drawing it (birds-eye view, outline only). I started with my main studio space (shown below), so it made sense to draw myself as object here (including each item I was wearing plus the pencil I was holding); to draw myself as I was drawing myself.

drawing of studio
studio, 22.5″x22.5″, graphite

My intention, as I support MEMORY (my 9th and final solo biennial) through drawing, is to again complete 2 large series. The first series uses past memory as medium, while the second explores memory/memorization as process.

To prepare for the first series, 99 MEMORIES, I am recalling 99 memories in my life from earliest to most recent, and translating them into 90-character grids. I will either draw these letter grids, print them using letterpress, or make marks using individual letterpress characters. Either way, the letters making up each memory are intimate, a small array 10-characters across by 9-characters down each centered on 10″x10″ archival paper.

Before I draw (or print), I will “collect” my memories and pre-determine their 90-character arrays through April 2015. I have applied for a May-start StudioWorks residency at the Tides Institute and Museum of Art in Eastport; a terrific program with facilities including letterpress and opportunities to engage with the community.

My benign memories (50 of the 99; pre-array example shown below) have no punctuation, the words forming my memories reading top-to-bottom, left-to-right (pre-determining arrays on my computer, my intention is to output these for reference when I draw/print). The letters from difficult memories will be randomized using a shuffle algorithm.

preparatory array for memory drawing

My second memory-based series (not yet titled, see below), is 27 graphite line drawings. I will study spaces (indoor and outdoor, spaces I have not yet seen) for specific amounts of time, then draw from memory. Nine drawings result from 1 second, 2 seconds,…to 9 seconds of memorizing; 9 drawings result from 1 minute…to 9 minutes of memorizing; 9 drawings result from 1 hour…9 hours of memorizing. The titles of each drawing within the series are 1 second, 2 seconds, 3 seconds,…9 hours.

Feel free to comment any series title suggestions you have. Also, please share anything you want about your own process of drawing!

I mentioned in an earlier post that while my non-traumatic memories take a lot of effort to recall, any difficult memories come right to the foreground with no effort. Aside from recall, the hardest part of my first-series process so far, has been organizing my memories whether benign or not into 90-character arrays. I add, delete, use longer or shorter words, to get the memories to “fit.” This process makes me think about how we organize our memories in our brains and bodies, from basic compartmentalization to just trying to make sense of things that make no sense.