In the Studio #55

About two years ago I was looking for a drawing series I could do at home that would help activate a home studio practice. I found myself not able to get to my studio as much as I’d like to and needing some sort of creative outlet for those downtimes at home when other distractions seems like irresponsible indulgences. I had in mind something small, something blue and nautical, maybe dealing with Neptune and whales. Jonah and the Whale I think was in my mind. I wanted also to create something using layers and sharpie markers, and where the focal images were buried underneath oodles of marks. As with most notions like this I marked it in my notebook and filed it away for future use…, that is until this year when I finally finished Maelstrom Leviathan Abyssal Charming.

This series of drawings turned out to be larger and far denser than I ever anticipated. They were also more emotional, taking place during a really difficult summer for me. I’m happy that as a finished collection of 5 pieces they for me successfully accomplished my goal of linking rich line work with opaque symbolism and a nautical theme.


These are two examples of images and symbols that were buried in the drawing of the Maelstrom series

Structurally each piece in the series began with a grid of celtic tile drawings. This grid was then superimposed and stacked with what I call a “scatter” drawing where the basic hue of the piece was set. On top of this drawing the main nautical-whale symbol was added in black sharpie, (the only time I used black in the work). Finally, each piece was given two layers of blue sharpie line work inspired by beige ceramic tiles I see everyday at my retail job. The sandwiching of all these layers create a kaleidoscope effect for me that feels like the strands of galactic clusters in space; very taxing to draw (each drawing took 20 hours to complete), but very satisfying when all said and done.

Here are the beige ceramic tiles that inspired the last two layers of blue sharpie linework in each piece. I might use them again in other works I loved them so much.

Here’s the Maelstrom Leviathan Abyssal Charming series 1-5 all complete:

Anthony Smith Jr, Maelstrom Leviathan Abyssal Charming No 1, 24 x 38 inches, sharpie drawing, 2019Anthony Smith Jr, Maelstrom Leviathan Abyssal Charming No 2, 24 x 38 inches, sharpie drawing, 2019Anthony Smith Jr, Maelstrom Leviathan Abyssal Charming No 3, 24 x 38 inches, sharpie drawing, 2019Anthony Smith Jr, Maelstrom Leviathan Abyssal Charming No 4, 24 x 36 inches, sharpie drawing, 2019Anthony Smith Jr, Maelstrom Leviathan Abyssal Charming No 5, 24 x 36 inches, sharpie drawing, 2019

My housemate Michelle turned me onto Lizzo about three months ago and at first I thought her sound was a bit thin and kind of like an urbanized or hipper Jill Scott, if that makes sense to anyone. Maybe grittier is what I mean. I’m still somewhere on this spectrum of opinion on her sound but I do love my big girls, and if we’re gonna be a nation of larger folks we ought to have young smart attractive pop starlets on the plus plus size to celebrate. Here’s Lizzos video “Juice”.

I continue to love Thundercat, I think his sound just feels like August to me right now. There’s something syrupy and thick in his many of his tracks. They feels rich and abundant like the life around you during this month. Here’s a quieter track from his first solo CD I’ve been playing over and over. It’s called “For Love I Come”

I’ve been working quite-a-bit on the 5 paintings connected to botanical/landscape themes that are going on display in October and I’ve pretty much have all the shadows and dark colors done. Over the next few days I hope to add a little more life to these works and maybe finish two or three and blog about the experience as promised. Until then do be well.

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