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 subject is a restaurant. I would spend the first few minutes staring at the empty paper while thinking about my experience there. 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. Some of it is coming from my brain. Like, I chose the color to match the bricks and I at least attempt to mimic the shape of the building in 2D. That's the deliberate part.

 

But it's also coming 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 at the same 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 part is less deliberate. I'm just the messenger to some degree.

All of that happens in the first 3 or 4 seconds. The page has an explosion of spirals and scribbles on it, to you anyway. 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 layer of color has to conform to those seismic readouts 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 in the background, it mimics a camera's depth of field. If it's the very distant background it might look like atmospheric perspective. Bla bla nerd stuff.

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