Friday, September 10, 2010

Hyperbolic Chamber

One of the most amazing aspects of human beings is our dual nature. We are both animals with primal instincts and intellects with the ability to communicate. It is our capacity for analysis and categorization that creates for conflicted emotions within us. The wolf, for example, feels no guilt over his murder of a rabbit. We, however, have entire organizations dedicated to making us feel bad about eating a hamburger.

I am always fascinated by the human mind and what it is capable of, with an obvious and particular interest in the trance-like state of creation. The tingling I get in the back of my neck as I become immersed in the world of a story I am writing, or the way I snap back into reality to step back and observe the drawing I just created - these are all inexplicable experiences that enrich an otherwise mundane existence.

One of my most amazing and enlightening experiences occurred to me during my 3rd year of college, in a Layout & Design class taught by the great Donald Poynter. As a typical self-absorbed twenty one year old (at the time) I drew only whatever I'd always drawn. Big breasted women, with long, wild hair. Perhaps this was a therapeutic visual, the process by which I examined my own insecurities. Under many of the teachers at SVA, I was forced out of my comfort zone.

I'd never been really interested in drawing landscapes. Nature was foreign to me, as a born and raised Brooklynite. I was however, interested in composition. And though I would not call myself a photographer, per se, I have a habit of keeping a digital camera on hand to take pictures of interesting compositions of the world around me.

The end of semester assignment came, where we had to complete a myriad of landscapes in varying sizes and mediums, and again, like the average twenty one year old, I waited until the last minute to complete the bulk of the work. I turned to pictures I had taken at the Bronx Zoo and Prospect Park for inspiration.

(more on my website:

By 4 or 5 in the morning, I got sick of working in tight lines using pencil. I whipped out some watercolors. At first, I over-thought it and applied a base pencil drawing before using watercolors to "fill in the lines." I employed this technique twice - one came out alright, the other, came out very muddy.

Even more frustrated, I attacked the third watercolor in a different manner. I shut off my brain, I did no base drawing, and I just let my hand do what it wanted. The result was this:

Out of the bunch I created in this assignment, this watercolor was both mine and Poynter's favorite. It was the pure result of muscle memory. Like being in the Hyperbolic Chamber of some Dragon Ball Z episode, my hands worked for nearly 24 hours learning the contours of clouds, the way landmass forms, and the way water reflects. Without any direct reference, this piece is a true representation of something that came out of me, and for that I am forever in debt to Donald Poynter.

No comments:

Post a Comment