A Measure of Life, 2021

On one of my first walks around the neighborhood within the first couple of weeks that I was living in North Adams, MA, I took this picture. I was looking up the trunk of a fruit tree which had not yet blossomed. I printed the photograph and tacked it to my studio wall where I hang images that are interesting to me. The silhouetted forms outlined in the picture were bold and stark and invited understanding. I waited for months before I even approached trying to elevate the blatant linearity and the exquisite balance elicited within the natural forms to a piece of art.

One day, I rolled out a huge piece of paper onto a wall in the studio. I left it blank for weeks. And then one day, I took a medium width marker and just started sweeping it across the page in the rhythm of the predominant curve in the photo and I kept going until I had completed the drawing of what was in the picture. The image did not fit the size of the paper so I had to imagine how to complete the border that remained.

I used the outline of the template I had made from the drawing of the dead branch to fill the width of the outside margin beyond the large drawing. When I realized that was not enough to satisfy me, I stopped for working on the piece for awhile.

One Sunday afternoon, I was lying on my floor listening to music beneath the spider plant hanging from the trim of the window nearby. When I looked up, I could see the answer for how I could would complete the emptiness of the margins. I would draw baby spider plants growing off the unfinished sections of the main tree drawing. (Details One and Two below.)

The bottom section of the unfinished part of the tree drawing still begged for some other imagery.

The first ever outdoor show called Groundwork at the Clark Art Institute was open and I finally went to see it. On the hike around the exhibit near the trails that extend beyond the museum, I took the next picture.

This photo became fodder for how I would draw the bottom section of the tree drawing. (Detail Three.)

All the visual information I had collected from my new living environment had contributed to a major drawing, the one shown below.

A Measure of Life, 2021, 60 in h x 88.75 in w, ink and marker on rag paper, titled and signed on verso
A Measure of Life, 2021, Detail One
A Measure of Life, 2021, Detail Two
A Measure of Life, 2021, Detail Three

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