Approximately 55 in x 15 ft. Charcoal and carbon pencil on paper. After 20 years of working in intensely saturated colour, it was a real joy to "deconstruct" my process in to work only in grey scale. My son had recently traded in a pet python (who had bit me!) for a couple of geckos. What a blast, drawing gnarly crow feet and goofy little lizards.
Dreaming I Was A Crow Dreaming
2012 - 2013. Principally featured at the David Kaye Gallery in Toronto. This drawing phase in my creative life began almost by accident. For the previous 20 years or so, I had engaged a very complicated painting process using hand cut stencils. Lots of colour and texture on prepared plywood. (Check out my section on "Stencil Stuff".)
But at the time I wanted to show my students what happens if you soften a line. Because I wasn't working in a conventional format, I had to show them in media that they understood. All I had in my studio was charcoal and paper. That would work, yes. But what should I draw to explain the effect. Well, charocal is black - what else is black? Ok, crows. And so this next extended phase of creative life began.
Two things that I hadn't anticipated. 1) People's overall reaction to "crows". Love 'em or hate 'em, everyone had a story - personal, physical, spiritual. I had none of that in mind. I was just enjoying myself. 2) After engaging a laboured, time consuming drawing and hand cutting massively detailed stencils for a few decades, I couldn't believe how easy it was to just draw. And fun!
Storm's A' Comin'
Approximately 55 in x 15 ft. Charcoal and carbon pencil on paper. Much of my imagery has a political basis. In this case, the trampling of Canadian civil rights that occurred during the G20 summit held in Toronto. Where anonymous riot police notoriously would "kettle" crowds. In this image, the crow plays the consumate trickster - both offenders and victims.
The Last Great Beast Goes Down
Approximately 55 in x 15 feet. Charcoal and carbon pencil on paper. Another not so subtle political image. Our former Prime Minister, Stephen Harper, presides over the demise of the great beast of democracy. Crows play the trickster again. Check out all the human heads - they all have crow feet.
This Time It's Personal
Approximately 55 inches x 15 ft. Charcoal and carbon pencil on paper. After being picked on (literally) for time immemorial, the little guys are fighting back. Those ants are going to put that dismembered crow foot where the moon don't shine!
The Fable of the Dead Crow
Approximately 55 in x 15 ft. Charcoal, carbon pencil on paper. You can tell me what you think that the "fable" is all about. It would seem that open ended story telling permeates all my work. For me, I really enjoyed drawing all the little creatures running around in the grass and the tunnels underneath.
Scorcher in the Summer
Approximately 55 in x 15 feet. Charcoal, carbon pencil on paper. Not much political here. Just wishful thinking. Outside of my studio is a small koi pond. In the summer when my studio gets really hot, I like to project myself into the cool bottom of the pond. Check out the fish. They all have human legs and feet. Can you find the farting frog? In this image, the crows are pushed way to the back - flying and cawing in the distance. I remember that the challenge I had set for myself with this image was to depict both the surface of water and under the pond simlulaneously. Maybe not surprising this image has been extremely popular and shown in a varietyof locations.
The Seven Crows school yard rhyme
Looking at my large crow drawings a friend reminded me of the rhyme I had learned as a kid.
"One crow for sorrow
Two for joy
Three for a girl
Four for a boy
Five for silver
Six for gold
Seven for a secret never to be told"
What follows are those seven crows. I also turned this series into an artist made book: "One for Sorrow". It has also become the focus a project exploring these drawings in a VR world. Along with my fellow artist and colleague, Lynne Heller.