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February 16, 2003
S-Series HD 54-55

And then this happened. Okay, these drawings barely just happen. It takes raw time to make them. They grow very slowly, they eat time to grow, they have their own life. I do not even know how long this one took. I remember sitting on a bench next to an old man who kept staring at my little book, and me over it, carving out line after line after line out of this double page. The Moleskine books are thread-bound, so there are these full pages now and then, very tempting. Very inviting.
I drew the centers on the right hand side first, then the drawing began to expand, more and more, spill over to the other side, then, as it was running out of breath, I set the other centers and completed it. I can not add to this page. It has achieved the highest density I would like for it. I could just completely fill the page with ink, but that would move the drawing closer to painting with ink. It is the linear nature of drawings that excites me after all. Well, it is not the only thing, of course. But how exciting is a line, that just cuts through a page. Is it the outer rim of an object? Does it define a connection between two points? Is it a fold of some sort, an opening? The horizon? Lines do not exist this way in nature. I know some do, but not really as outsides of objects. The horizon is not really a line either. It is an intellectual task to translate lines into outlines. It is a pleasure to carve them out of the page. The dense drawings are just layer after layer after layer of slowly evolving thought. Spilling tales of the traveling pen-nib. Wherever the line ends, a tiny bit of extra ink remains on the page. It is the ink that was supposed to last for another millimeter or two, yet I stopped, mostly because the pen and I reached the outskirts of another linear system. And so it is possible to see the direction in which I drew on the page. It helps a tiny bit to translate the process back into the linear thing it was as it happened. It is so easy to forget that each one of these drawings did not happen at once. It is actually a completely linear process. No two lines happen at once. There is only one pen-nib, only one me, and we go through this together, millimeter after millimeter, minute after minute. Only the final product is a wall of a drawing. It is a bit of a travelogue of a pen and a slow and steady left hand.


Wow. This one is beautiful. The depth is amazing, and it seems to just jump off the page.

I'm sure you've mentioned this before, and i've just missed it, but I will ask anyway; what kind of pen do you use? I'm left handed too, and it seems nearly impossible to find a pen that I really like with ink that dries fast enough that it doesn't end up smeared all over the page and my hand.

Posted by: nat on February 16, 2003 02:17 AM

Oh, no problem. For about ten years now, my only pen is this: a Meisterstück Solitaire, Sterling, le Grand. I have a B nib on it. I actually dropped it once and it fell apart, about 8 years ago. I sent it to MontBlanc and after about a week or so they sent me the pen completely serviced and polished. They did this for free, btw. Not sure they would do this again. The instrument has seen a lot of abuse. We (obviously) spend a lot of time together. I recently tried to switch the ink to something lightfast, and it just sompletely clogged the pen in seconds. It must have been some chemical reaction with the ink i usually use. I cleaned the pen as well as I could, but there is still this large artifact in the main ink chamber. Hmm, I might have to bring it into the store on Madison and 57th.
The line drawn with this pen becomes very thin then used the "wrong way"... upside down. Some of the camera lucida ink drawings (of which I have not posted any yet...) are drawn this way. Oh, actually, the cover image of the site was drawn with the back of the nib.
Yes, it is a relatively high-price-range writing/drawing instrument and it is not ideal for most draftsmen, because it does not offer quite the expected variety in line which some might want. For me however, it is the perfect work horse and a sprinter.

Posted by: Witold on February 16, 2003 02:42 AM

when you look at a blank page do you see the centers?
or do you more "feel" them?

Posted by: em!ly on February 16, 2003 10:10 AM

wow. that is sooo asian. lovely. just so lovely.

Posted by: Vikki on February 16, 2003 10:11 AM

Em!ly, the centers come are set at various times. Sometimes a drawing starts as a constellation of centers. I create a composition of just the centers sometimes creating symmetries and sometimes really just setting up a dynamic skeleton for the drawing to come. Then the growth period begins. The drawings start off very fast. Because of the lines being much shorter around the centers, it appears that there is a drawing in place very quickly. The process then slows down drastically when there is no center to draw around. So the centers are really centers of growth in these. Whenever there are many centers of energy, the drawing tends to solidify quickly. A drawing with no centers at all would probably take a really long time. I have just recently been experimenting with timing them and it does often take longer to make one than I could have predicted.
I made pairs of drawings that start off with an identical set of centers. The drawings turn to look very different once grown beyond a certain point. Each shift in line is of course very much amplified, as the drawing builds.
These drawings are very much like little organic systems where a small cause can have a very dramatic influence on the outcome. We often think of natural systems surrounding us as as a pre-set creation. I actually think that much of what is natural around us is the repetition of tiny ideas with an interaction of ever changing external influences. Add one linear factor like time and you end up with a creation that over time might very much look like evolution, or like a predetermined divine creation on a grand scale. Nature is not designed in the way we design one single car. It is more the way we design cars.
I very much believe that the macro world as we experience it runs on tiny ever growing ideas. Growing does not mean expanding thought... just changing in patterns that are themselves exposed to influences.
I think there are many more layers of growth and change than we were designed to simply understand. And yet we keep trying and this process of trying is just another one of these factors.
I do not think that it is possible to find an ultimate truth, as it is a moving target. Just as the universe is expanding, so are the ideas in it. Let's not let any scientist see this. ; )

Posted by: Witold on February 16, 2003 10:59 AM

Das sieht echt toll aus.
Mein Kompliment.

Posted by: Dominik on February 16, 2003 11:46 AM

wow... that one just leaves me gobsmacked :)

Posted by: shauna on February 16, 2003 02:31 PM

I have to say I absolutely love your high density drawings. I have done quite a few of my own since I have seen yours. Some with the rounded lines, some with right angles. Definitely time consuming but what an amazing look. I simply draw with a blue rolling ball pen but it likes me and it was less than $5. Long live the cheap college student!

Posted by: Ducky on February 16, 2003 02:41 PM

I think I saw this place once, from the view of an aeroplane, while flying over Asia. Mostly there were LOTS of snow-covered mountains, but every now and then you would see a tiny village, scattered with little brightly colored houses -and then more mountains. I thought "how wonderful to be so far removed from the rest of the fast-paced world with all it's ugly materialism and rapidly-changing technology! I wonder what their lives must be like. SIGH..."

I got so excited thinking about living in one of those tiny towns that I was unable to sleep the entire 16 hour flight. I DID however enjoy watching the 80+ year old Chinese lady next to me talk in her sleep. I guess she's seen those mountain villages before?

As for pens, I've tried all sorts of all sorts (from dime store to art store), but I can safely say that my drawings wouldn't look like I drew them unless I was using a .99˘ Pilot pen and very, very cheap sketch paper. And besides, I've never felt that I could pull off a "smooth" line approach to life/art. I LOVE lines, all kinds, but my heart goes out to all those poor, unloved, wiggly-wavy, chunky-crunchy, thick black lines. I will take them home and love them like my own :)

Posted by: Stephan on February 16, 2003 05:40 PM

Oh, yes, I know... me drawing with this big thing might seem like an original recording from the 80's. Such an overkill. I just got so used to the weight and the ink flow of this thing. Hmm.
And it does not really look like the one in the picture anymore. I must have pushed it for thousands of miles by now. Especially writing is difficult with anything else. I really push the nib, and this one just grew on me over the years.

The lines could indeed be landscapes seen from a plane, or those fields carved into the mountain sides in China. Yes.
I think many viewers also categorize these drawings as Asian, because there is a similar texture to some background carvings on laquer boxes. The drawings here are of course grown out of a different motivation. Or at least I think so. : )

Thank you for leaving a comment on my site, Stephan! : )
Yey! (A very happy yey it is.)

Posted by: witold on February 16, 2003 06:13 PM
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