FIELD DRAWING AND PAINTING

Many years ago, I decided to make a conscious effort to include observational drawing and painting as a regular part of my drawing regimen. Early on, one of my drawing goals was to approach the act of mark-making as something of an extension of the art of calligraphy - as a certain dance of choreographed, gestural movements designed to capture the essence of the subject/scene in a symphony of highly expressive strokes. I was striving for a facile and fluid expression, a sense of freshness and vitality in these images.

As I have become more comfortable and confident in my working process, however, I've come to recognize that my goals in making field drawings and paintings (I no longer call them sketches) have evolved. I find that my work has become increasingly more meticulous but less self-conscious over the years. Drawing sessions have become longer - often including a break between an initial stage spent laying out the composition, and a second period dedicated to executing the final expression. It's still true that marks are often laid down with a certain verve, but actually, when the drawing is going really well, I'm not especially conscious of mark-making - only of a fascination with recording what I see. And what I'm most interested in seeing is not the bare essence of something, it's the uniquely character defining elements - an odd proportion or relationship, a blemish, a scar, a patch, any abnormalities that deviate from the expected ideal of "perfection". I focus on the qualities that distinguish this subject from all those like it and make this a one-of-a-kind experience in a particular place and moment of time. When I am field drawing, it is as though I am touching every subtle and intimate detail with my eyes, holding that image in my mind, and translating its impact in my own way onto the drawing sheet. This seems to be the experience I treasure, that brings me the greatest joy and satisfaction. I like to get completely immersed in the peculiarities of the scene I'm witnessing. And years later, as I look over one of these images, created with such focus and intensity, I find myself reliving the experience of making the drawing as though it were yesterday.