Notebook Noodler

Hockney riff

notes taken while watching David Hockney documentary - I am paraphrasing Hockney here:

-We live in a three dimensional world - drawing is two dimensional

-Fascinated by two dimensions which doesn't exist in nature - a thereotical space - probably why we are interested in space.

-We get an illusion of space - potentially because of our scale - relating to the world as flat. You can copy it, translate it, interpret it. Flat can copy flat. Much more difficult to translate three dimensions into two dimensions.

-Content dominates. One sees something as ugly another sees it as beautiful. Isolating forms - reduction to beauty. Formalism is seen as sort of terrible - minimalism - and content is an affectation.

-So you sort of have to go back to just seeing. Drawing. By eye. Moving focus of the Chinese scroll painters.

-Remember the camera sees the space all at once. We dont do that. There is a hierachy of order in the way I see. Each person sees things different. None of see the same thing - same way. photos make us all see the same way. It is one way of seeing. Cezanne was another way of seeing. How do you respond to what is in front of you. You start isolating the forms - making marks. Form. How do you see form? Lines on paper. Shapes. Value. Tone. There are other ways of seeing.

Frank notes:

Makes me think of Ellsworth Kelly's remark about his "cold eye" and reduction of shapes without content. Same process as Hockney's but to a different end. Are content and abstraction exclusive of each other? Same shapes, same forms contain all.

Kelly: If you put your mind to rest, just forget about the mind and look, everything becomes sort of abstract. And I like to investigate that. I like to play with space, color and form. That pleases me.

link to article:


notes from Comics and Picture-story Symposium

(these are notes I found from when I did a talk at NY Comics and Picture-story symposium. thanks to Bill K and co. for asking me over)

(I gave out the comic I did for the Pittsburgh Biennial at the Carnegie Museum from last year to all who attended.)

I wanted to do a different riff here - if you have ever seen me talk then you know I like to riff on geometry and the golden section like a wingnut in the subway - so I thought I'd slow it down and just talk about my real love: drawing.

I draw a lot from observation - but I've whittled down my tools to 3x5 inch memo pads or blank index cards. I draw directly with a Pentel Rolling Writer pen (the Alex Toth pen).

I'm interested in poetry - in depicting the world around me in a fragmentary fashion. I like reducing the landscape or interior in front of me down to very simple lines on paper. Simple notes to myself. I like to collect fragments of my beloved.

Drawing is fragmentary - like memory piecing small glimpses together. I like to think about the scrolling vision of the Chinese landscape painters - David Hockney talks about this but I like the idea of applying it to comics. I see comics as a scroll - left to right or up and down - just the way the narrative / images / sequencing can progress. The unified vision of the fragments. Simultaneity. Seeing the whole page / spread at once "out of order" then absorbing the fragments in proper order. I'll never forget the day Yuichi Yokoyama looked at one of my pages where it was a symmetrical grid with only landscapes - no words - he asked "which way do I read it?" and I replied "all at once". He smiled and said he understood what I meant.

Painters seem to grasp the idea of all at once reading - diptychs, salon style hanging - but many comics makers are hung up on reading rules for text and don't really consider that a reader may open the book or webcomic at any place and read whichever way they want. To me, this is a benefit - it plays into the way I like to see the fragmented world around me. I've developed a method for myself that is fragmentary - like the way the eye moves around. We feel shapes - and the how they are asssmbled on a page is different than when we isolate the image.

I "fix" the frame to find "order" in the endless visual scroll in front of me at all times. Have you ever made a little cardboard frame the same size of your paper and hold it up to the thing you are trying to draw? Think of it like a viewfinder in your camera. Only YOU are the camera. Your vision doesn't flatten the field and make what you see the same as what everyone else sees. The best part about drawing from observation is your selection process. Your editing process as you draw. What lines first? - what to put in? - what to leave out?

Feeling. Intuition. Chords. Rhythm. Charles Schulz. 1,2,3,4.

Finding forms, shapes, lines, value - translating them as simple and small notations like shorthand has allowed me to develop a language - my aim is for a clear reading and to see as we see - not as a camera sees. It's like writing and it is like taking snapshots but it is neither - it is a collision of imagined, observed, and remembered. There is a great drawing exercise - do you know it? - think of something you want to draw: your car. Imagine it amd draw it. Then go look at it and draw it. Then remember it and draw it. Compare the three drawings. It's a fun exercise. Parlor game.

I like to think about simple sequencing. Pairings. I was doing alot of character driven comics and just started taking characters out - making observations. This works sometimes - but then the "landscape comics" lose their power like when a poem becomes too much like a list - too documentary.

So "Walking Distance" was my attempt at adding symbolism to the observational drawing - trying to still use a documentary approach to depict emotions using landscape. Emotionally charging the landscape so that it becomes a character almost.

My "documentary" drawings are emotional to make - I am connected to the landscape as I am connected to my beloved. Sometimes I will draw people close to me - it's to record a fleeting glimpse of our time together. A love letter.

Chimera was my first attempt and mixing these two things together. Landscape and Figure. And to try and see them as the same thing.