During my growing up, I experimented with many media. I taught myself how to dig and process clay from local stream beds. I taught myself to weave. I saved money (from collecting return bottles and such) to buy painting materials and worked primarily in acrylics. I would wash down my canvases in the backyard for reuse. I also sold my mostly black and white optical art posters and hand-made drawing guides to classmates.
But doing art is expensive . . . and over the years, I turned to creating images with words, capturing the sights, sounds and smells, the ambience through poetry, narratives, travel articles and guidebooks in both English and Spanish. I also am a translator.
Since 1988, I have traveled the breadth of the Americas—from Alaska to Tierra del Fuego—working to create bridges of understanding between cultures, between pueblos, through my written creations. Through my drawings, I hope to share some of the mystical aura of the landscapes I have seen.
I have worked in two national parks, Denali and Galápagos, and on volunteer projects (such as at women’s centers, and helping community groups and schools establish libraries in Mexico, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Venezuela, Ecuador and Bolivia). Among my many adventures are hiking the legendary Jungle Trail from Guatemala to Honduras, hitchhiking Chile’s Carretera Austral, and exploring over seven dozen archaeological ruins.
With my constant wandering through the Americas, I find drawing is probably the least expensive visual art medium—and the easiest (and safest) to carry in a knapsack. Now I mostly create pen-and-ink drawings. I use a 0.2 mm drawing pen with archival quality—light, and waterproof—ink as well as colored pencils, Faber & Castell. The lead is soft enough to permit the easy blending of colors.
Another of my favorite mediums is watercolor (I prefer Windsor & Newton)—but for the expense, difficulty of getting such materials in Latin America, and the “adventure” of carrying such in a knapsack, I rarely work in this medium.
When I was younger, I would hop the city bus and go to our local art museum up to eighteen times per year; I’d spend the entire day wandering through the galleries. And through the years, no matter where I travel, I am always ready to slip away and spend time in an art museum or gallery to see works—local or international, old or contemporary.
I have always liked the Post Impressionists as well as Oriental art, especially Japanese and Chinese screens. I also admire indigenous artists from the Americas and Africa, along with Paul Klee, Wassily Kandinsky, Georgia O’Keeffe, Leonora Carrington, and Remedios Varo.
My drawings are meditations. I begin to draw and let my mind and the ink flow where it will. The images (and, on rare occasions, words that incorporate themselves into the images) come from some place deep within. Often there are animals and other things hidden within them. Nothing is planned out beforehand or sketched. And thus, many have an otherworldly sense to them—a visual version of magic realism.
There are also times when something I see—a plant at the roadside during a journey or hike—may interest me to be part of a drawing. Or perhaps a vision seen in a dream or meditation may call to be brought to life in a drawing. I do not do en plein air art—so my visual creations are not about specific places. Rather, everything comes through meditations while I draw, pulling out (memories of places I have been—or places that could be).
It takes at least several hours (and, at times, more than ten) spread over a number of days, to create a drawing.
Sometimes I just need to be by the sea, feeling the sunlight glimmer across the water, smelling the salty waves, seeing the breeze through palm fronds. If I can’t be there in person, then I can transport myself through a drawing, as in Tropical Respite.
I dream of being able to hit the open road again soon. There is still so much I want to know.
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