You know that feeling when something's stuck in your head and you don't know why? Like a memory from a dream. You know it means something. Something important. But you just can't figure out what... I've drawn lines since so long ago I can't remember when.
All that time there was no one who saw any importance in what I was doing. But I did. Even if I didn't know what it was yet.
A line drawing from 2015
Abstraction (as it is commonly conceived) is is taking something real – something representational – and distorting it until you can no longer tell what it is.
With lines, I did the reverse.
I studied my lines – drawings made with no intent to represent anything "real" – and found representation within them. Forms emerged: two people kissing, a swirling wave...
I isolated these forms. I drew them over and over again, slowly snaking my way from abstraction to realism. I showed people lines that to me portrayed so clearly real things. And I asked them what they saw.
But nobody saw what I saw. If they saw anything at all. Still, nobody saw potential in what I was doing. And I began to doubt that there was any too.
And then something happened...
In the Winter of 2018 I noticed something. I looked at my drawings. And they began to move. And other people saw it too.
And for the first time in a long time, I got really excited. And I started to draw like crazy again.
I experimented with different forms. Through a painstaking process of mostly trial and error, I observed which forms best crafted the illusion of movement. And I practiced drawing them. Again. And again. And again.
And in the late Winter of 2018, I made this:
And then this:
I kept experimenting. Constantly drawing new patterns of lines. Observing how different patterns altered their visual effects. Slowly finding the most mesmerizing forms. And practicing them. Again. And again. And again.
It was around this time that I established a rigorous set of rules for my drawings: 1) No two lines may intersect 2) No line may rotate more than 360 degrees 3) No two adjacent lines should be formed such that, if the lines were continued beyond their end, they would intersect at a 90 degree, or near 90 degree angle 4) All lines must curve (e.g. no line may change direction in a manner that forms an angle.) 5) No line may branch off into 2 or more lines
Adhering to these rules was a challenge. I had little tolerance for my own mistakes. If ever two lines intersected I started over. I never erased.
But with practice, mistakes decreased. I became more consistent. I improved fast. But there was a problem...
I needed it to be BIG.
I wanted to make my lines big. I wanted to make them immersive. Such that a viewer could stand and stare into them and have their entire visual field engulfed in their mesmerizing illusion.
I tried charcoal. I tried paint. I tried large sticks of graphite.
Graphite was somewhat successful. But the lines didn't pop the way I wanted them to. They did not move. They were not alive.
I wanted them to feel alive.
I experimented with color. I tried craypods, crayons, colored pencils, paints. I even tried dry erase marker on white boards. But these projects never turned out the way they did in my head.
I was lost. I feared I would never find the right medium for this project. I feared such a medium may not even exist.
Sharpie pen. It's an office supply tool. Not meant for art. My hopes weren't high when I first tried it in the Fall of 2019.
But it was just what I had been looking for.
It was perfect.
Now, I draw lines primarily in large sharpie pen. And it's allowed me to make works such as this one:
Has it all led up to this? The lines I used to draw in middle school when I was bored in class. The lines I could never get out of my head, like a memory from a dream, that I knew were important, but did not yet know why. The lines that nobody saw any merit in for most of my life until I had them framed in display in the Shen Gallery (Brooklyn, NY) and in the Reynolds Club (Chicago, IL). Is this what they have all been leading to?
Or are they leading to something even greater?
Will my next artistic innovation blow these lines out of the water?