I was sitting in my studio middle of last year, faced with filling a gallery space in February and wondering how I was going to do it (even visual artists get writer’s block). After ten years of relief printing by hand I had finally acquired a printing press—a 300-pound ship’s wheel behemoth that took four people and the removal of a garden gate to bring to my studio. It was a huge commitment in money and studio space. It was what I had been yearning for. Yet now that I had my heart’s desire, I didn’t know what to do with it. What’s more, I didn’t want to do anything with it.
My friend Jacqueline, also an artist, asked, What do you like to do most? Draw, I replied. What I really want to do right now is draw. Then do that.
It turns out all I needed was permission to remove my artist’s writer’s block.
I worked in batches of five, jumping from drawing to drawing, but soon I had worked myself into a corner; the drawings became precious and I was afraid to make a mark for fear of ruining what I already had. Jacqueline to the rescue: Pick one and mess it up. Just decide that it will be a throw-away. So I did.
It completely changed the way I approached the work. For the next batch of five I threw ink on first, or scribbled, or dribbled my morning coffee over the paper. Soon after objects began to lift off the page. Every defaced piece of paper presented its own challenges, and I pushed ahead wondering how I could go beyond what I had done in the last drawing. And the throw-away? It became one of Jacqueline’s favorite pieces.
I hope that by writing this I’ve given you insight on my journey—the ‘why’ behind the ‘doing’—and how I finally arrived at these unforeseen destinations, all twenty-six of them.