Sometimes I think of my drawings as the skeletons for future paintings. Even literally years ago, as one of my classmates “danced” with a skeleton, certainly a meditation on impermanence. Other times it is my kinesthetic/visual way of relating to the world around me. It allows me for example to more fully see a tree as it is, rather than an idealized version. It also allows me to get very close to say a leaf or a rock to the point that the drawing becomes very abstract. I draw most mornings in my sketchbook, sometimes from looking around me, sometimes from photos I’ve taken, other times entirely from my imagination. Increasingly, as I look back, I can see the nascent forms of painting series.
Many years ago I started noticing changes on the back side of the guard rail of our local bridge as I walked on the adjacent sidewalk. I found the changes throughout the seasons entrancing. Over time the guard rail came ever more alive for me as it indeed “bloomed” with all manner of lichen, mosses, dirt and peeling paint. These changes were usually at their most luxuriant in early spring. By summer they were much more drab in color and shape. Eventually I couldn’t help joining in. Sometimes I would dance by kicking up my heels in flowing gestures. These would imprint among the vegetation which would subsequently fill in but leave a hint of the gesture. Other times I would kneel and make fine lines with some of my drawing implements. For years almost no one else seemed to notice, but for the last couple of years a few other would add their piece—I heart BillyBob or *#[email protected]”* or FIN. I wonder who these new collaborators are. Each year when all was at its most extraordinary combination of human nature/other nature collaboration I would make a series of photographs. This year, one with snow and ice, I found myself photographing on cold snowy days. I was touched that two of my neighbors stopped their cars to ask if I was OK.
Somehow it was a grand ritual for me in a small way. One of the things I counted on throughout the seasons. But… Impermanence ever in the wind, its time comes to an end this spring. For better and for worse, at least for me, the upper part of the bridge is being replaced. With these photos I raise a glass to neighborhoods, community and nature! Especially moss and lichen! To see the gallery, click here.