Process

"I try to leave as much of the process as I can to chance, mainly because I don't believe in chance."

As described by the artist..

"Let's say the drawing is a restaurant. The first step is staring at the empty paper while thinking about my restaurant memories. Perhaps my band performed there in our early days. And maybe I met dear friends or lovers there. I would try to let myself feel those feelings again. These feelings will manifest down my shoulder and build up in my elbow and wrist. I'm clutching the marker with the nervousness, love, laughter, and confusion of the feelings I've dug up.

When the marker starts to move across the paper, it's fast and loose. Only some of it is deliberate. Like, I chose the color to match the bricks and I at least attempt to mimic the shape of the building in 2D. Those parts come from my brain and not my body.

 

The rest comes from my body, where I let those memories manifest. Missing that old friend. The thrill of having an audience jump to the rhythm of my fingers. That perfect combination of people around a brunch table. It's my body that determines how fast the marker is moving, how hard I'm bearing down, whether it moves in a gradual arc or zigzags in an unpredictable way. This is my body more than my brain. I'm just the messenger to some degree.

All of that happens in the first 3 or 4 seconds. To an onlooker, the page has an explosion of spirals and scribbles on it. To me, I see the conversation I had at the back table, or the person I saw for the last time on the stairs. Then I might switch colors and try to wrestle it into form. Each new layer of color has to conform to the previous accidental seismic reed-outs, as if the concrete was poured that way or the carpenter was from another dimension. Eventually the windows and lights tighten it together into something recognizable. 

After all of that uncontrolled madness, I pick up a black fine tipped pen. Now is the time to slow down and deal with every accidental drop of ink. The edge of the color where the ink meets bare paper is not a strait line but a jagged coastline. I'll outline it meticulously, choosing what becomes foreground or background. This is where spirals become 3d. If I choose not to outline something, it will seem blurry. If the background is left blurry, it mimics a camera's depth of field. If it's the very distant background it might look like atmospheric perspective. Perhpas it's the reflection in the water that I don't outline. Bla bla nerd stuff.

The black outline presents me with limited choices based on the decisions I've made in the past. It's like life in that way. Sometimes I regret some of the marks on the paper because they present a lot of navigating. More often, I regret the things I didn't do. For the most part, I'm having fun reliving the whimsical landscape that I may had forgotten I created had it not been for that black pen.

In the end, the black outline tells me when the drawing is done against my will. I can no longer add to it. I can no longer change it, just like the memories themselves. When I look at the finished piece, even if it's a year later, I still see how my hand was releasing that joke I heard in the parking lot, or the exhaustion I felt during the encore. It's written right there in plain english, like a tiny needle drawing an earthquake."

- Dave Russo