In the course of applying gesso to my group of 16x16 panels earlier in the morning, I stumbled onto a connection with an image in my head: a blob-like flying crow. I made 25 drawings in sumi ink and black acrylic over the course of an hour. After a break, I sifted through them, pulling out these and piling up the rest like kindling. I tinkered with these images, using some of the drawing vocabulary I found when sketching ravens from photographs. 

As I drew, Coope, Boyes and Simpson sang of Flanders Field. The drawing experience was pretty emotional, scrubbing black soot onto paper in pursuit of an agile image. There’s something in them about the wasteland feeling of having one’s assumptions about the way of the world obliterated by a new reality–and about the flight that can happen when I get up again.

With these drawings I feel like there’s an active process of development underway for this group of 20 panels. The growth is happening from both ends, so to speak–from the ground up, as I build texture and soon layers of value and color, and from the top down, as I work out what this obsession with crows in flight has beneath it. My production plan is twofold, at the moment. I plan to keep adding layers to the panels themselves, building a ground and an underpainting up while keeping Christian Hetzel and friends in the room with me. At the same time I plan to keep drawing, cutting and pasting, stencilling and simple-printing images of crows, keeping a particular painting by Christopher Wool around, one in which stencils of leaves become a very interesting space/splatter. When the panels have grown into something living, I’ll draw/stencil/paint/print the crows on them, obliterating them once more. 

Perhaps this process is more about trauma and post-traumatic growth than I’d been willing to admit.

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