About the Daily Drawings, Part 2

This second part about my Daily Drawings Project will focus on the translation of these drawings from small, quick works on paper to a more considered, for lack of a better, precious drawings created with exhibition in mind.

It was almost one year to the day that I met with Ai Taguchi from Jill d’Art Gallery to discuss my work.  She was in Tokyo for the Spiral Independent Creators Festival and we arranged to meet to discuss working together.  I brought all my drawing notebooks with me along with images from my Memory Walks Project to the meeting.

We closed the meeting with plans for me to participate in Art Nagoya 2017 along with plans for a possible group exhibition at the gallery afterwards.  Fast forward to the beginning of 2017 when I brought four small drawings that I mounted on panel to Nagoya for a planning meeting.

To make these drawings mounted on panel, I took a sheet of watercolor paper of the 300 gram variety and coated the panel with matte gel medium.  I put the watercolor paper on a flat surface and then pressed the panel onto the watercolor panel.  I then flipped over the panel and used a roller to smooth out any bubbles.  After letting the medium dry overnight, I took an X-acto knife and cut away the excess paper.  Two aesthetic issues came up in the process.  While I am proud of my skills with the X-acto knife, they still have lots of room for improvement.  As a result the edges where I cut away the excess paper were not completely straight upon close examination.  In addition, there was often excess gel medium that was squeezed out the side of the panel upon rolling away all the bubbles.  The side of the panels were rather painterly and not so clean.  I had considered painting the sides, but due to time constraints as well as my own uncertainty about the results I did not alter the sides.

The original idea of these drawings mounted on panel was to stretch paper onto panel to give the work a finished look.  I spent a good amount of time search Google via “stretching paper on panel” and all its inherent variations and the cutting away the excess watercolor paper was the best I could find.  The other possible was the use of gummed tape to mount paper to panel, but I did not find the instructions or results too appealing.

When I brought these drawings to the meeting at Jill d’Art, the same issue about the sides of the panels came up and I expressed my desire to stretch paper onto panel and my lack of success in finding the necessary instructions.

She introduced me to Yumi Kawai who was in the gallery at the time.  She works with Ai Taguchi and she sent me step by step photographs as well as instructions on stretching paper.  It turns out that I did not require the heavy watercolor paper for stretching paper onto panel, but rather standard sketch paper would be ideal because of the ease of folding.  After spending a day with lots of paper and a staple gun, I managed to create the following kind of fold for the stretched paper.

I was quite impressed by the simplicity of the overall process.   Granted even after preparing stretched paper on panels, I still have room for improvement.  The smaller panels, A5 and A4, are not a problem, but the larger A3 and A2 panels, regularly result in uneven stretching of the paper which is not corrected as the paper and panel dry.  The end result is a bit of a fold at the corners where the tension is not even.

The above photograph also transitions into the next step of the process.  The actual creation of the drawings.  There is a degree of preparation time when stretching paper to panel (but definitely not as long as stretching and priming canvas).  In addition, I was asked to work larger for Art Nagoya which meant that I would have two new challenges for the art fair.  The first was working in large formats, A4, A3, and A2 which are respectively, two, four, and eight more area than what I was used to on the A5 surface.  The drawing tools where not going to change, so the amount of work was going to increase by at least that much for each drawing.

The second challenge was that these drawings on panel were not going to be made during my times in between resulting in a lack of spontaneity and unpredictability.  I had already created a sense of preciousness with these pure white stretched paper on panels and the thought of having a line go awry due to a sudden jot on the train was not a pleasant one.  As a result, I had to carve out time in the studio to make these drawings.  This process was going to take some of the unconscious nature of the drawings out of the stretched paper drawings.  Before I set a pen to any of the panels, I looked through all my drawings I made at the end of 2016 and the beginning of 2017 and bookmarked drawings that I thought would translate well into larger drawings.

The result of my work for Art Nagoya 2017 resulted in 12 drawings )

The first eight drawings are A4 size, while the next three are A3 size, and the last one is A2.  Each of the drawings took between one to six hours to make.  Shortly after I finished the drawings, I could sense a more finished and thought out process in these drawings.  I still feel that way about them.  I think for Art Nagoya, the A4 size drawings were quite success feel.  I have mixed feelings about the A3 and A2 drawings as I think I might have overworked these drawings and even tried too hard to fill the whole space.

The process of making these drawings is different as I feel more tentative which each mark that I make and also find myself pausing more often to consider where are I going in the drawings rather than letting it grow intuitively.  Luckily for me, I got a chance to apply what I learned from Art Nagoya in short order.  I was invited to participate in a three person exhibition at Jill d’Art as a way to introduce my work along with two other artists in Nagoya.  Since the “New Face!” exhibition was to be only six weeks after Art Nagoya 2017, new drawings would be ideal.  We also decided that the drawings should be larger i.e. A3 and A2 size with more variations.

So again, I set to work on these larger drawings during the month of March and what I grew even more comfortable with these larger formats and the result of my efforts can be seen below.

You can see that I repurposed one of the drawings from Art Nagoya adding some marks as well as rotating the orientation of the drawings.  I also made conscious effort to try and not fill the entire surface with marks to more reflect my approach to making my daily drawings on the train and other in between times.  The black and white one still a bit better, but at the same time, I can sense that it was largely made at a different time.  The last one in the gallery with the brown and red was quite experimental for me and as it turns out it was the one drawing that sold during the exhibition.  That drawing took a more organic approach in its creation.  That was the one drawing of the entire lot in which I did not have any expectation on what the end result would be.  For the other drawings, I was working with motifs that I was comfortable with and had a sense of where to end them.  Again, this was lacking in the intuitive nature that is largely the basis of my A5 size drawings.  So it may be that the last drawing while I am not as drawn to as some of the other ones may offer me a path to pursue these larger and stretched paper drawings in a vein similar to what I have been doing with A5 drawings.

I have a stack of 20 or so stretched paper panels of the A5 and F0 variety which are waiting for my pens.  I do have a handful of A3 and A2 panels that can be stretched, but for the time being I want to use the smaller prepared panels to play around with and loosen my conscious grip on these materials.

And to complete this trilogy of notes, I will focus the third part of these writings on the Daily Drawings in relationship to my exhibition at Gallery Camellia and how all these ideas have lead to the current form of the project I am planning for the Nakanojo Biennale.  Stay tuned.

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