image selection tool

The purpose of this tool is to facilitate the selection and presentation of sets and subsets of images.

I put this together because I wanted a way to access drawings to use for reference when making new work. It might just as well be used in making a presentation to a client, or audience. It uses standard HTML, CSS, and JavaScript, and so has the advantage of being portable in that it will run in any web browser.

On open, the page displays images that then may be selected by mouse click and then enlarged by pressing the keyboard Enter key. The images will scale-up to best accommodate the number of images selected and the width of the browser window. Use the F11 key to view fullscreen, and F5 to refresh the page and return to the opening state. Sample page.

image sample a, 1 x 1.25Images are scaled to fit the browser window. A percentage of the window width is allocated for the display of images, and divided by the number of images selected to determine their widths. The width is multiplied by 1.25 to set the height. To display correctly your images must be prepared with an aspect ratio of 1:1.25. With the browser open to the full width of your monitor screen, the single image display will be at maximum size and guide you in setting your template file to full resolution. Images must be placed within an “images” folder at the same level as the .html file, and named “1.jpg, 2.jpg . . . 18.jpg”. The download includes a Photoshop .psd template file and a folder with placeholder .jpg files. Ideally, I would have liked to be able to load files directly from a directory folder, but for security reasons Javascript cannot access local file information.

Portrait mode best fits my needs, and so I’ve put this first version together with that in mind. If there were interest, I would put together a landscape version as well. Future versions might include an option to load additional sets of images, controls for use on mobile, etc. The .zip file includes the .html page, a copy of jquery-3.3.1.min.js, the .psd template, and “images” folder with .jpg files. I offer this as is, without warranty. Feel free to use or change to suit your needs. If you have thoughts about how this might be improved, I’d be happy to hear your ideas.

Download here image selection tool v1.zip

working in the woods

I began last summer to work in clay, reasoning that it would be easier to manipulate and change than the wood I was working with, and while I took away useful lessons in how the clay could be used, the studio situation I found was not going to work for me. I went back to working directly with the wood I was cutting in the forest. A good deal of time went into figuring out what needed to be done to control wood, to prevent checking, splitting and warping, through drying and then sealing the wood in preparation for taking paint, stains and other finishes. I also began to experiment with other approaches to finishing the surfaces, by bleaching and also burning.

It seemed one way to color the wood was to char the surface with flame. My experience in making charcoal no doubt sparked the idea, and research revealed techniques that have been used in Japan, Shou Sugi Ban, a way of charring wood used in buildings, and in the United States, by wood carvers, to add decorative elements to bowls and other forms. The wood bleaches I used result in a coloring very close to white. The bleach would not affect areas that had been charred, resulting in black and white design that is intrinsic to the material.

Drying the wood quickly was accomplished using a wood kiln. This consisted of a cabinet I built from an old chest of drawers, with insulation added and doors that would seal fairly tightly. A heat source, a light bulb, and a small dehumidifier keep the moisture content of the air within the kiln low accelerated a drying process that otherwise might have taken months into a week or so, depending on the volume of the wood. I monitored the progress with a humidity meter, and when the level had stabilized over a period of a couple of days, the wood was dry and ready to work.

Finding the right materials to seal, stain, and prime the wood for additional finishes is a work in progress. A series of layers of shellac, Golden fluid matte medium, Keda water-based stains and Transtint alcohol-based stains, and Crystalac clear wood grain filler are the materials I have settled on after much experimentation. Wood is naturally hygroscopic, and the shellac reduces the absorption of moisture in the air and so prevents movement of the wood, and the matte medium both the leaching of tannins from the wood to the surface, and bleeding of medium from finishes into the wood. Different combinations of these materials for different finishes have to be considered, but those mentioned here result in a surface that retains the natural look of the wood, which is what I was looking for.

My thinking about these works has been changed by the situation I am working in. I have been looking at and to natural forms around me, and considering how these can be pulled into or used to develop ideas I have for the work. Photography and digital manipulation of imagery selected for that use is an important part of the process I am involved in, and a way drawing out ideas. Today I collected stones from the woods, and arranged and photographed them in different patterns, and will work with those in Photoshop. I have been photographing sticks, as a source of line, and cutting larger branches to serve as “rulers” for the same purpose. As always, the process of making the work is the source of the work, and so I think about ways I can invent process that will present new ideas.

wood, paper, clay

Out yesterday cutting wood slabs. A lot of work goes into getting one of these ready, so having more of a plan when beginning to cut makes sense. Thought I could make drawings on paper, but doing the work in one shot does not seem to be how it is happening. I make the cuts, then look, photo, and bring into Photoshop to make edits. These edits then can be taken back to the work… recut, assemble.

So drawings… preliminary, in order to get a better sense of where I want to go. Ink drawings on paper can also be cut and rearranged. Or clay, which can be cut into, patched and recut, and is more in accord with the process in working with the wood.

wood support for painting

Continuing to work cutting into slabs of wood from tree trunks and branches. Rather than just as blocks for printing, I am beginning to use them as supports for paintings. First drawing into the wood with a chainsaw, and reworking as needed with other tools for surface and detail. Photographing the work at various stages and experimenting with various reconfigurations of the image in Photoshop is an important part of my process.

cutting wood blocks for printing

I have been collecting leaves, bark, and other materials in the woods here and thinking about how I may use them in making drawings, prints, and paintings. The process at this point is to work up a sketch from scanned material, use that to determine the relative size of a wood block, settle on the dimensions for the work, find the raw material that will fit the requirements, here, a section of an old tree trunk, and print out a guide for the image and cut the block. Every source material winds up having to be handled differently in the cutting, the tools that work well with one piece of wood may not be what will work with another.

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wood blocks

I have been cutting wood blocks out of an old tree stump to use for printing on rice paper. I eyeballed all of the blocks as I made the initial cuts with the chain saw, happy to live with the drawing and marks that resulted from the process. In the first prints I made it was clear that the proportions of printing surface to open space was wrong, and the images surprisingly smaller than the appearance of the blocks suggested. So I have been fixing the blocks by cutting them apart, removing what would be white space, and reassembling.

wood blocks for printing

drawing tool for ink and wash

The drawing tool, used here with sumi ink and wash.

I have been drawing recently with sumi ink and wash using brushes and pens of various kinds. Some are reed pens that I cut from the stems from an old hydrangea bush. I wanted a tool to use with the ink that had more of the feel of charcoal in contact with the support, as opposed to the brush which has a softer feel in point of contact. It occurred to me that something like the tool pictured here might be made using these stems and a section of fabric that could absorb ink. I was surprised at how well this works, the fabric will absorb a large amount of ink, and so it is possible to draw for a longer time before recharging with ink. I’ve made these in a variety of sizes, but even using one size it is possible to get a variety of marks. One drawback in that after prolonged use, the fabric begins to fray, but is easily replaced. Click on the image here to view a sequence of steps for the construction of the tool.

oral history interview with Richard Diebenkorn

diebenkorn_reclining_nude_pink_stripe

Susan Larsen, for the Archives of American Art, interviews Richard Diebenkorn, 1985 May 1-1987 Dec. 15

“Diebenkorn speaks of his family background and early life; his education and his service in the Marine Corps; his introduction to modernism; his early abstract work; the formation of the Bay Area figurative school and the relationship between art in New York and in the Bay Area; teaching; critical and public reaction to his work; important exhibitions of his work; vacillating between the figurative and the abstract in his painting; his working methods. He recalls Daniel Mendelowitz, Erle Loran, Raymond Jonson, David Park, and Elmer Bischoff.”

Image: Richard Diebenkorn, “Reclining Nude – Pink Stripe”, 1962.

site launch

art·work results from a desire to rethink how my activity as an artist may be represented in a way that is more satisfying.  It is opening all the doors to the rooms in the house. The old hierarchy is out.

The plan is to present both the work of the studio and the research and discoveries related to my work, as well as the art that evolves from these activities.

I have pulled in existing content from drawingprocess.com, editing some of the posts and deleting others, before closing that site.

 

Notations: Contemporary Drawing as Idea and Process

Notations: Contemporary Drawing as Idea and Process, a website for the exhibition Notations, curated by Meredith Malone for the Kemper Art Museum September 14, 2012, to January 7, 2013.

The focus is on the variety of drawing practices used by artists making Minimal and Conceptual art in the 1960’s and 70’s.

Robert De Niro at D. C. Moore

Robert De Niro Sr., still life

A beautiful exhibition of paintings and drawings by Robert De Niro Sr. at D. C. Moore. The color in these paintings is striking, and they look much better first hand than in any reproductions I have seen. “Inspiring” is a good word to describe these works. De Niro has not had the attention he deserves from the official art world institutions and press, although painters have always been aware of and have valued his work. I hope this exhibition will help to remedy the situation, because I would like to have more opportunities to see both his paintings and drawings.

collage with ink and acrylic

Untitled. Collage drawing with ink and acrylic on rice paper, © 2014 Graham White, artist
Rice paper with sumi ink, watercolor, and dry pigments mixed into acrylic gel. The acrylic paint used here is zinc white pigment mixed with a matte acrylic gel, poured onto the paper and then manipulated with various tools.

Typically I am working on a series of drawings based on a set of related ideas, and then cutting and tearing those into sections and repositioning the parts from one or more drawings to make each collage. I use an acid free glue stick for the adhesive, and may run a collage through a printing press to make sure the pieces are firmly pressed together before adding paint.

drawing with graphite into paint

When I made this painting I was using rabbit skin glue to size the canvas and an oil ground. I had stretched this on a board, and after applying a layer of white oil paint began to draw into it with a soft graphite pencil. The oil was slow drying (and the room cold) so I had days to add drawing, and to erase with additional paint. The graphite embedded in the paint burnished to a surface with a soft shine in the process of working. No additional fixing or resurfacing was needed as the graphite was embedded permanently in the oil when it had dried. I later mounted the canvas on regular wood stretcher bars and added a frame.

Untitled, oil and graphite on canvas by Graham White

Interviews with artists

The Artists Documentation Program interviews artists in order to gain a better understanding of their materials, working techniques, and intent for the conservation of their works. The interviews, conducted by conservators, with Jasper Johns, Richard Serra, Brice Marden, Frank Stella, Cy Twombly, John Currin, and many others, are informal and often revealing of the artist’s intention, process, and personality.

Newington-Cropsey Cultural Studies Center interviews include Jack Beal, Wolf Kahn, Will Barnet, Audrey Flack, Donald Kuspit and other artists and writers identified with traditional forms and craft. The interviews focus on how the careers and work of the artists are situated within the larger social and art historical contexts of their time.

playing scales

James L. McElhinney’s drawing class at the Art Students League typically begins with several twenty minute sessions of thirty second and two minute poses, and then finishes with longer poses. I usually go in with a simple idea or problem related to the drawing in mind, and the short pose format presents an opportunity to practice different approaches to use of materials, composition or style, much in the way a musician might use repetition to refine the shape a musical phrase.

lost in translation

I have been working on a painting that was based on a image constructed from a group of drawings that had been cut apart, collaged, photographed, and transferred to the computer to composite in Photoshop. I projected a completed digital image onto canvas, sketched it in with paint, and then developed while using a printout of the digital drawing as a guide.

From the outset I knew there would be elements in the drawing that I could use for the painting or leave, and in the process of selection it became apparent to me that digital images are complete by themselves, and not waiting be translated to some other material–a perspective I had not had so clearly before. They are screen work, and could only be represented in some other form, as prints on paper perhaps, but those parallel forms would only represent them in the way that a photograph might represent a painting. That is, not very well.

In visiting the de Kooning retrospective at MOMA, the divide between what is actual in the world and what is a representation or simulation of reality is obvious. If you have only seen reproductions of his paintings, you have not seen his art. They are entirely about physical presence. Actual human scale and interaction, material, touch, and color… none of which can be represented successfully.

Digital media should also be experienced natively, as art and the media in which it is conceived and created cannot be separated. Or it should be clearly understood as journalism, a pointer to an original. Something new might be re-imagined in another media, but the actuality of the original will be lost in the translation.

paper collage

The ingredients are pages from books, paper and cardboard, cut, torn and glued, squeegeed with gesso, rolled with ink, printed with computer graphics–dots, text, photo imagery. Cut and re-cut, compressed, combined, and carved until it seemed like something was happening.

I had it in mind to take the previous drawings I had made and ‘do something else to them,’ so often would start by editing out the parts of the drawing that did not seem necessary, compressing it vertically, horizontally. Then I would begin to add new graphic elements, trying to find something that would click into place. But removing parts of elements, obscuring or reshaping–erasing–was no less constructive in process, really no different. Sometimes I would feel that I was close to completion with something and then take it apart completely to see how it might go back together, and notice that one part could be combined with another drawing entirely, and continue there.

on sitting for a portrait by Lucian Freud

Over a period of nine months during 2003-2004, writer and critic Martin Gayford sat for a painting by Lucian Freud, and later, several months for an etching. In Man with a Blue Scarf Gayford describes his relationship with Freud as a sitter, a fair amount of information about the external process of making the painting, and occasionally, details that provide insight into how the work may unfold from Freud’s point of view.

The painting with the book title was included in Lucian Freud: The Painter’s Etchings at MOMA, 2007-2008, with the companion etching. In this related media file, Gayford talks briefly about his experience.

There are also clips on YouTube from Lucian Freud:Portraits, a film by Jake Auerbach and William Feaver, parts one and two, that contain interviews with a variety of Freud’s subjects, family members, friends and acquaintances. Together with Gayford’s book, these provide a very nice sense of the relationships that Freud fosters with his models in order to meet the requirements of the work.

semi-automatic drawing

This winter I began a series of drawings that were made by following a very specific procedure. I wrote down steps to be followed on a card. To start, tear a page out of a book and set it down on the worktable to make the first quadrant of a rectangle. Next, tear another page from a book and position it to form a second quadrant of the rectangle and glue it in place, and likewise for quadrants 3 and 4.

The unwritten rule was that I must decide immediately where each page should be placed in relation to another, and to the greatest extent, to avoid prolonged deliberation. I wanted to make drawings that worked with basic elements of drawing in as direct a way as possible and, for all of the complications, to remove the handmade mark from the process. It seemed collage would be a good approach.

The paper came from books and other printed items I had purchased from street vendors and thrift shops. As I worked, each sheet was selected for the typeface and density of tone, color, and drawing of the text on the page that would fit into the mix.

Often I would begin early in the morning and soon fall into a rhythm, making one drawing after another, attentive less to the distinction between starting and stopping work on each piece than aware of the process of continuing work.

This process felt somewhat like yogic breathing exercises I had been practicing, the objective to concentrate all attention on the act of inhaling, then exhaling, in a repetitive cycle, and let all other intention and desire fall away.

At times I would begin to see myself working,  almost as an observer, detached, watching myself make decisions without there being a need to intervene or “decide.” When applying glue a sheet might shift out of place, and if I tried to move it back would find that the initial location had been perfect, and could not be exactly recaptured. And the solution to this disruption–the correction–was not to try to fix the error, but instead to remove the sheet and start again, perhaps a different piece of paper, and make a fresh placement. This knowledge became part of the way I approached life painting, better to accept that something of character lost is unique, and start over.

Eventually I added steps that deviated from the inital procedure so that the process became less and less predetermined, but I still was able to hold onto that initial impulse to work directly, and stay out of my own way.

paintings, summer

Paintings done on canvas in Mary Beth McKenzie’s class at the Art Students League. When painting from life I tend to tighten up in the work in a way that I can avoid in drawings, and so set out this session to change that, working more quickly on several sketches in paint over the course of each two week pose, leaving work in various states of finish, and moving on–to take what I like in the drawing and work to get that with the paint.

I also have been increasing the scale of the image, to pull it up closer to the surface of the picture plane and to get away from reflexively setting the figure back into space–the relationship of viewer to image changes, moves closer. There is also less “other” space to contend with, and I can deal with the elements more abstractly and have larger surfaces to paint into with both more control and freedom.

drawings, winter – spring

I drew portraits from life, various charcoals and pencils, and typically during a six day pose, a drawing over one or two sessions. Starting again, from one drawing to another, and in each drawing.

Every drawing begins with an intention, to use a particular tool, or scale–some arbitrary form of entrance–and then if it goes well, the drawing unfolds in accord with some self-organizing logic. Which can change. I was listening to a Bob Dylan recording and while playing the bridge on guitar he made a mistake, and just as quickly changed the flow of the music to make that part of the piece. I thought… well, that’s it.

It has been said that to draw is to always start again. That is the ideal, the sense of the drawing continually taking shape. And then, not having known what the drawing should look like–it is a challenge to know when you are done.

Friedel Dzubas told a story about visits he made with Helen Frankenthaler to Willem de Kooning’s studio in the early 50’s. They would see paintings underway that looked incredibly strong and complete. Later they would see same work when he was finished with it, and think the earlier versions had been the better. I guess it is likely that de Kooning was the only one to have seen some his best work.

“For many years I was not interested in making a good painting–as one might say, ‘Now this is really a good painting’ or a ‘perfect work.’ I didn’t want to pin it down at all. I was interested in that before, but I found out it was not my nature. I didn’t work on it with the idea of perfection but to see how far one could go–but not with the idea of really doing it. With anxiousness and dedication to fright maybe, or ecstasy, like the Divine Comedy, to be like a performer: to see how long you can stay on the stage with that imaginary audience.” –Willem de Kooning, Content is a Glimpse: Interview with David Sylvester, 1963.

Well, I didn’t always get off the stage as soon as I should have. All of these on paper, about 18×24.

Alice Neel

A favorite artist these days is Alice Neel–as I am able to see more of her paintings the greatest of her achievement becomes more obvious–is there a late 20th century American painter of the figure who is her equal?
It is inexplicable that the current exhibition of her work, organized by the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston and now in London at the White Chapel Gallery, is not slated for a showing in New York, her home, it’s people her subject.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art has a telling exhibit of figurative artists, Facing the Figure: Selected Works from the Collection, 1962–2007 on view this summer and I have made it a point to try and visit most lunch hours to look at the 2 portraits by Neel, of Henry Geldzahler and Arthur Bullowa. Also included, paintings by Alex, Katz, Fairfirld Porter, Richard Diebenkorn, Phillip Pearlstein, Will Barnet and Andrew Wyeth.

The installation in the mezzanine gallery is intimate, and makes it possible to study the surface of the painting, faces of her subjects, at a few inches distance, and to discern the traces of initial drawing in paint and begin to understand how she put these pictures together. She had a complete understanding of the structure of the human figure and of styles of representation which gave her the freedom to either depict elements of the figure broadly or in detail, flatly or in volume, with greater realism or expression, and to select freely from this vocabulary as she worked across the figure or face the modes of representation that the picture required.

I try to see what the structure is that an individual painter has developed that allows them to manage all the varieties of information contained in a human face. Neel seems most always to emphasize the contour of the shape of the face, and within that the volumetric shape of the face, with clearly observed side planes that push the front of the face forward, and to draw the volume of the forehead and nose together. This provides a good foundation to support a variety of possible treatments of the details of the features, which may be drawn in line or more fully rendered.

Vincent Van Gogh

Of artists, I probably had been aware of Van Gogh earliest–a large print of Sunflowers hung on the dining room wall of our home in the 50’s, which I still have, in tattered form–and continue to enjoy and study his paintings and drawings, and writing. There have been some very good exhibitions of his work in New York in the last few years, Van Gogh and Expressionism in 2007 at the Neue Galerie, Vincent van Gogh: The Drawings at the Metropolitan in 2005, and many works regularly on view from the museums collections.

I began rereading his letters a few months ago and have just learned that all of The Letters have been published online by the Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam. The collection contains over 900 known existing documents in the original text and translation, with facsimile images of the original document and images of the artworks referenced in the texts.