In the spirit of Picaso, Hemingway, and Ansel Adams
|Drawing on a snow day|
Not quite Picaso
I remember making drawings as a little kid of galactic battleships I would design and tracing over pictures of animals in the encyclopedias to create wilderness scenes. But in terms of real “artwork” I remember the first two drawings I created. I was about 11 years old and each was for my grandparents. I still have them today. One was a drawing I made of a tobacco barn in Kentucky. I drew it while en route to my cousins in North Carolina, in the back of my grandparents’ car. I gave it to them and it hung in their living room until after my grandpa died and the house was sold in 1995. The other was a sketch of road lilies in a vase. After my grandfather on my mom’s side passed away in 1980, my grandmother picked me up one summer day to keep her company and on the way to their farm she stopped along the road and picked a bouquet of lilies. When we got to her house she asked if I would draw them for her. Years later, after she passed away and my step-grandfather was going through her things, he packaged it up with a number of her other things in a box and gave it to us. I pulled this picture out of the box and couldn’t believe that she had kept it all those years.
With the exception of designing houses, my pencil on paper creativity was pretty limited. We didn’t have any form of art class until my Junior year in high school. But those last two years of having art pulled something out of me I wish would have been encouraged much earlier. My strongest abilities were in pen and ink sketches. I kept many of those and continued to do pen and ink into college. I created one drawing for my grandpa and grandma Bowen that they had framed. When Doc had a large estate auction I was disappointed he didn’t return it to me; instead it went to the highest bidder and the auctioneer made mention who created it and that he knew me personally. Oh well-probably the only time a piece of my art will sell.
I still do some sketching here and there. Two years ago, while the kids had a snow day, my daughter and I broke out the pastels I had from college and we drew several pictures together of the snow storm. And just a few minutes ago she came in and asked if we could paint together after lunch.
Even less like Hemingway
I remember writing all through high school-keeping a journal of sorts with short entries of those major events like dates, obtaining my driver’s license, hanging out with the guys, or attending concerts. While at Bethel in my senior year I dabbled a bit with prose, certainly more for my benefit. But while at Andrews I picked up the pen on a few occasions and at times the work became prolific. I remember writing a core of short essays revolving around justice, death, and hope during my first year. After those I came across a few short poems my grandmother, who had just passed away, had written and it gave me a lasting connection to her. At that point I thought I could do the same for whoever was to follow after me.
In my third year of architecture school, probably due to some solitude and inspiration I had in living in the small cabin on the lake, I wrote like a madman during the bleak winter months after December, which continued well into late spring. I wrote about our place in life, in this world, about memorials and the relationships that led to those. I wrote an extensive piece about a good friend who had been killed the year before. In my fourth year I pulled the pen out again and wrote a short stint more, some into another journal, and some attempts at rhyme.
I have never shared what I had written during this early time. In fact to this day only one or two pieces from that period have I ever shared with anyone. But my writing today, maybe even more vulnerable than then, is pushed out weekly into the digital world.
|From those early black and white days and the truckstop counter|
But a little in the spirit of Ansel Adams
I took an intro to photography class my third year at Andrews. It was black and white film, and we did our own developing. I had played a little with photography when I was younger and it was something that always interested me, particularly black and white. So I took the opportunity that would count also as an archi elective. It was winter quarter-which was perfect for black and white landscape shots. I felt, anyway, that I did some great work, and after that class I always made some time in my life to get out and shoot. Though I did well with people, that wasn’t my thing. I was best at old buildings…..go figure. Still, fortunately for me, some of the people subjects I took pictures of and still have today, are no longer with us. I did a whole series of shots of my grandpa that mean a lot to me today. And when I can find the time...I still shoot.