Sketch­ing a dream Artists share their cre­ative process in Sketch­book at Beals & Co.

Pasatiempo - - PASATIEMPO - artists share their cre­ative process

ANartist’s sketch­book is by na­ture a pri­vate space, a vis­ual jour­nal, and an in­ti­mate, judg­ment-free zone in which to think through ideas. Yet sketch­books are cov­eted by art lovers as well as other artists, all of whom thrill to see the in­ner work­ings of the cre­ative mind or gain in­sight into an­other’s process. Car­ried in a beaten satchel or stuffed in a back pocket so that, should in­spi­ra­tion strike, the artist could con­ceiv­ably stop any­where to make a quick draw­ing, sketch­books can take on the sig­nif­i­cance of sa­cred ob­jects. They are rarely en­tirely de­voted to ac­tual sketch­ing or lay­ing the ground­work for fu­ture projects. There are no rules dic­tat­ing what a sketch­book must be used for — other than the prac­tice of record­ing some as­pect of an in­di­vid­ual’s artis­tic life on a set of blank pages — so, in ad­di­tion to pre­lim­i­nary draw­ings or ideas, an artist is just as likely to jot down ran­dom thoughts, ap­point­ments, and in­ter­net pass­words as he or she is to press a used pal­ette’s worth of paint, plant life, des­ic­cated in­sects, or other bits of in­spi­ra­tional ephe­mera be­tween the pages.

Su­per­sti­tion abounds when open­ing a brand-new sketch­book. It is com­mon prac­tice to turn past the first blank page be­cause of the po­ten­tial for mak­ing a mess right out of the gate. “A lot of the time the first few pages are ripped out be­cause you don’t want a crappy draw­ing to be the first thing some­one sees when you show them your sketch­book,” said Frank Gon­za­les, a Phoenixbased artist who is par­tic­i­pat­ing in Sketch­book, a group ex­hi­bi­tion open­ing at the Beals & Com­pany show­room on Canyon Road on Satur­day, Nov. 5. The other artists in the show are painters David San­ti­ago, Pete­cia Le Fawn­hawk, A. Nigh Hern­don, and Tim Ken­ney; pho­tog­ra­pher Justin Britt; and sculp­tors Up­ton Greyshoes Ethel­bah and Tammy Gar­cia.

Gon­za­les, who paints brightly col­ored, slightly sur­real por­traits of birds, with and with­out flow­ers and cacti, said pre­sent­ing a sketch­book along­side a paint­ing re­quired mak­ing him­self vul­ner­a­ble, be­cause he is used to show­ing fin­ished pieces, not un­suc­cess­ful for­ays into pos­si­bil­ity that cre­ate their own his­tory as they are worked, over­worked, and of­ten aban­doned for a fresh page. He ad­mits he does not keep a sketch­book as re­li­giously as other artists, and he tends to use his to store ideas and in­ter­est­ing seed­pods from his lo­cal botan­i­cal gar­den — but get­ting in­volved with the show at Beals & Com­pany has stim­u­lated a de­sire to work in his sketch­book in a more dis­ci­plined fash­ion. “I want to feed off that en­ergy so that even when I’m not in the stu­dio, I’m still work­ing, still pro­duc­ing ideas and putting some­thing out there.”

The artists in the ex­hi­bi­tion are os­ten­si­bly in­clud­ing the sketch­book they kept be­fore the gen­er­a­tion of their fin­ished piece, though that guide­line has been loosely in­ter­preted. Gon­za­les has worked dili­gently these past few months to fill the heavy pages of his hand-bound sketch­book, but some of it re­mained blank when he shipped it off to Santa Fe. “My hope is that who­ever buys it, that they can con­trib­ute to it as well,” he said.

A. Nigh Hern­don ap­proached the project from the op­po­site end of the spec­trum. His sketch­book is more ac­cu­rately an artist book, a medium that is ex­plic­itly cre­ated to be a fin­ished piece of art, with con­tent that ad­heres to a spe­cific sub­ject or theme. Hern­don’s sketch­book is a one-of-a-kind col­lec­tion of po­etry that will never be avail­able in any other form. The Mole­sk­ine-brand sketch­book, made with Ja­panese ac­cor­dion pa­per and ti­tled top­i­ario, is filled with orig­i­nal writ­ing by the Mex­i­can poet Is­mael Velázquez Juárez, hand-let­tered by Hern­don in the Hel­vetica font. The ac­com­pa­ny­ing im­ages are 35 mm pho­tographs Hern­don took with a Soviet-era Rus­sian knock­off of a Ger­man Le­ica II cam­era. “It looks just like a Le­ica, and it was su­per cheap, but the lens is aw­ful. It’s like a piece of glass with bub­bles in it,” he said. The re­sult­ing im­ages are darker than they should be, the col­ors all wrong.

Hern­don, who lives in Tulsa, Ok­la­homa, and Mex­ico City, lived in Santa Fe dur­ing the sum­mer of 2016 in a stu­dio on Buf­falo Grass Road, on the south side of town. He spent 12 to 13 hours a day work­ing, which is typ­i­cal for him. “I got into art to have a lot of alone time; my iso­la­tion in Santa Fe was self-im­posed,” he said, de­scrib­ing the 11-by-14-inch dip­tych he made for Sketch­book. One panel is a stretched piece of Bel­gian linen, and the other is a pho­to­graph taken with the Rus­sian cam­era of the Santa Fe sky at night, printed on raw, un­primed can­vas and cov­ered by a win­dow screen.

Hern­don’s work rests in sub­tle gra­da­tions of gray and tiny nu­ances of light and tex­ture. He be­gan his ca­reer as a por­trait artist but came to re­al­ize he wanted some­thing else. “I think the hu­man form is eas­ily ac­ces­si­ble, eas­ily rec­og­niz­able, and gives the viewer in­stant grat­i­fi­ca­tion,” he said. He de­cided to fol­low in the aes­thetic foot­steps of one of his fa­vorite painters, Agnes Martin, and changed the di­rec­tion of his work. “But as of late, none of my paint­ings have a sin­gle drop of paint on them, so I guess they’re not paint­ings any­more,” he said. “They’re al­most sculp­tural.” He re­jects the “mixed-me­dia artist” la­bel be­cause ma­te­ri­als are too im­por­tant to him to col­lapse them into a catch-all phrase. “It’s like be­ing a chef and see­ing a recipe that says, ‘Add a bunch of stuff.’ Have you made cook­ies or rump roast? I’d

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.