Tuesday, May 10, 2011

last drawings of Brooklyn

Our Lady's Field (with Don's house)
      So over the past few weeks, after putting away the paints and the French easel, I've decided to focus on doing a series of drawings on paper, in charcoal. I figured for this last series, I would choose subjects that are familiar and close to me, the Brooklyn neighborhood where I have lived for the past 15 years, Windsor Terrace.

Flooded path in Prospect Park
     There's something about the act of drawing which brings me back to the essentials: line, shadow, form, and mark-making. I decided that I would do drawings of things that I see in my everyday life: the intersection where I go to get groceries and coffee, the path I walk along to take my kids to the playground, and the ball-field I pass to get back to my house. All of these were done on 22" x 30" paper, and executed with charcoal powder and charcoal pencil. Some of them were done in 'one shot'; that is, in about a 2-3 hour session, on site, with a portable easel. Others required more time, so I worked on them over several days, usually in 2 hour stints.

16th Street and Prospect Park West (NW corner)
     One of the things that I love most about working from life, is this sense of being totally in the moment. Out there on the street, particularly at a busy intersection, you're just one element among thousands amidst the flux of life. At times, the honking cars, trucks blocking your view, passers-by stopping to look and ask questions, become a distraction and hinderance to the work, but they are also part of it's 'life-force', an experience I'm trying to capture.  This becomes particularly more heightened with drawing, rather than painting...probably because drawing is a simpler and more immediate act. There is a general sense of frenetic energy on the streets of Brooklyn which somehow seeps into the work.

16th Street and Prospect Park West (SW corner)
     Someone stopped to ask me why I just don't take a photo and draw it in my studio. The short answer to that: because I can't hear the birds chirping in my studio or observe the light sliding across the sidewalk. Being 'in the moment' is just as important to me as 'making a picture'. There is also a sense of continuity with my life that becomes apparent to me in these drawings: I'd see friends on the street that I knew, who didn't know my art, and were just floored that I was out there doing pictures of regular everyday Brooklyn. All sorts of people became my audience: the old lady on her way back to the assisted-living center down the street, the guy who works at the bagel shop around the corner, a local panhandler and neighborhood drunkard, the parent of a fellow student at my son's school. Somehow, the experience of being on site and in the mix of urban life, feeds the life of the drawing. With our move less than 2 weeks away, I feel time slipping away....like I should have been doing this work years ago. There are not enough days left to do all the drawings I want to do. Somehow, that makes them all the more vital, necessary and exciting...yet also, bittersweet and sad.

1 comment:

  1. These are really beautiful, Frank, and the memories you write of are just as lovely! Thanks for sharing the reminder of how important it is to be in the moment.