Three for Five II

“How long did it take for you to make this?”

Most people ask me this question when they look at my drawings. It is hard to say how long it takes. I do not finish them in one sitting. I start, stop, start, and then repeat. It gets even worse. I have been known to finish a drawing, erase it all, start again, finish a drawing, erase it, and draw it yet again. I am a sucker for punishment.

Don’t you believe me? Let me prove it to you.

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This was the first of many stages that were erased or covered up with gesso or more drawing to create pentimento. I regret erasing this drawing, but I did it nonetheless.

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No other photo remains of this middle panel. I erased most of the green and purple drawing, covered it with gesso, and made this version. It did work as a triptych but it was too illustrative for me. That is not necessarily a bad thing, but it was not what I wanted. I erased the middle panel, but I still have the ones on the left and the right.

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I actually did a third drawing. The underlying layers created one difficulty after another. Since I used gesso on top of a light layer of grease left by the colour pigments and then used washes on top of that, it started peeling as I was working and more so when I was almost finished the third version. I peeled off all of the second layer of gesso and redid the drawing, so technically I drew four versions! I must have been insane.

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This was the end result. It has more layers and is much more complex in its vibrancy than earlier drawings. It is really difficult to photograph, too!

Why end up with one drawing when I could have had four? I am a sucker for punishment. Each one is an experiment. I also used pentimento to develop some richness. What is pentimento? The dictionary defines it as a trace of an earlier painting beneath a layer or layers of colour. I remember how my basic design professor, Juan Gomez Peralez, explained it. When you erase a pencil line on a piece of paper, you might think that you have erased it but something remains. It might be an indentation, a smudge, or a slight remnant of colour. This will then continue to exist underneath whatever is placed upon it and possibly enrich what comes next. It adds flavour or depth.

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