By Kristine Schomaker
This is Part 2 in a series, focusing on artists who have been creating repetitively with process since the pandemic started.
I am still seeing many artists getting through these days using a repetitive, meditative, earnest, psychological style of working in the studio that is helping them get by.
The artists below are telling their stories through their mark making.
Phil Anderson Blythe
A few months before the pandemic, towards the end of 2019, I started working on larger, more abstract pieces. When March came along I was starting to figure out the direction I wanted to take my art. What started with more dull, darker color tones, transitioned into brighter, more colorful work towards the beginning of June. Losing my bartending job and having even more time to focus on art, I dived into color theory and expressing emotion through color. Repeating these movements and color combinations over and over again felt natural and freeing. Life during the pandemic hasn’t changed much as far as being isolated from the outside world and practicing my craft. I think the biggest lesson I’ve learned during this time was to fully face myself and believe in myself. We’re here for such a short time and I think a lot of us that have the privilege to create, are diving deeper into their work more than ever before. Taking full advantage of what the world has laid out for us.
During zoom meetings I draw on clothespins with micron pens. The tiny “canvas” helps to give me structure, boundaries, control, and a sense of a beginning and an end in short periods of time. The images of repeating lines are soothing and calming. These are the things I need to give myself to feel comfortable in a social setting.
Like many people, I have been feeling easily overwhelmed and have found it difficult to accomplish some of the most seemingly simple goals. With simplification as my new motto, I quit doing everything until I could recharge my reserves. Normally I would just start a new project, abandoning the last, but this time I recognized that I needed the small but important thrill of completing something; a tiny victory upon which to build the next.
Blind contour drawings have always been a way for me to be completely focused on and immersed in the action of seeing. When I am making a drawing, I must push out everything else and literally feel the line through an eye-to-hand connection. Nothing else can intrude. Everything boils down to line.
There is a note on my desk that asks me to consider, what is one thing I can do today to not feel helpless, and how can I connect with others? One day it occurred to me that I could reach out to my community of friends each week, and ask them who or what I should draw that day. They have engaged with my requests suggesting celebrities, government officials, pets, and fictional tableaus.
I love blind contour drawings because they are accurate representations that have been spatially distorted, and this gives poetry to the image. In a world obsessed with digital accuracy, line drawings speak to the heart.
This recent series of works on paper has been inspired by time spent in the wilderness, mostly focused on the experience of approaching a false peak or crossing a mountain pass. Because spending time in nature has become one of the few safe outlets, I have found myself spending more and more time there and this in turn has become more dominant in my practice.
A false peak occurs when one is ascending a summit and it appears that you have reached the top only to find that the actually peak lies higher and farther on the distance.
Though this idea is something I started exploring prior to the pandemic, it has taken on a new meaning for me as we seemingly continue to experience false peaks in the pandemic as well as in the pursuit of social justice.
Most of these works were drawn and painted over older works on paper that i had neglected and found stashed away in old portfolio. I think a lot of this came about during the pandemic because of the introspective and isolated time we are in. I found myself digging through old boxes and portfolios and then reworking these drawings. This has also been a link to out current times as culture is reworking itself it what the proper way to act and interact, questioning what is right and wrong, hopefully for the better.
All works are smallish(11 x 15 inches or less) drawings/mixed media works on paper made with gouache, charcoal, graphite and acrylic.
I can be found on Instagram here: @thornhill_stephen
And my website: stephenthornhillart.com
L. Aviva Diamond
Most of my work is abstract nature photography – seeing the sacred in everyday life and the cosmos in waves, ripples and bubbles.
But these days I’m not getting out into nature. The pandemic has placed me in my house for almost six months now.
After the first month or two of being sequestered, I started drawing during the large group Zooms. It wasn’t intentional; I just made drawing after drawing and
then threw them away. But the process was really satisfying. So later, I started coloring them. And then I began keeping 3×5 cards and waxy colored pencils on my desk. During the Zooms,
I tilted my screen so my hands wouldn’t show, and drew away. This is definitely not my normal art practice – far from it. I always felt a bit self-conscious about drawing since I don’t
have formal training. But I keep feeling compelled to do these; making these marks scratches a deep itch. They aren’t for anyone else. It’s just my private note-taking on the world and
the state of my psyche in the age of Covid-19. But it feels great. And I’m thinking about starting to work large, to make paintings on canvas. Just not during Zooms!
I created this work while fighting a disease.
There were so much information about the virus.
I was having nightmares about bats infecting other animals. After that I created “CONTAMINATION”.
So much talk about getting sick after being close to the sneezing or coughing person. That is how “THE BIG SNEEZE” was created.
I was trying to imagine the process of how our immune system works. How strong and powerful defense system defends the body. “THE WARRIOR” is about this process.
“MUTATION” was made after another nightmare.
“THE BIG HEADACHE” is a reflection of the suffering of headache and muscle aches.
I am grateful that art have helped me to overcome the terrible times of being sick.
During the quarantine, almost all the public places were closed, including the two places I used most often, the swimming pool and my studio. So I started to try new ways of making art and exercise, which is digital painting and scuba diving. The current electronic products are powerful enough to imitate any real form of painting and no longer have the limitation of physical space and material, as long as the artist has an idea, he can do anything he wants to. The epidemic quarantine gave me a lot of time to research and get familiar with the new material, which I’ve always been interested in but didn’t do.
Diving allows me to walk into and see a new and different world I haven’t seen with my own eyes before. When I dive, I am in a state of weightlessness, which makes me feel like I don’t exist in the world. Besides, I can’t hear any sound except my own breathing, and each exhalation and inhalation is infinitely amplified. This kind of strong sense of existence and no sense of existence that can be experienced simultaneously is addictive. In addition, I found that the underwater world is not pure blue or greenish blue but colorful, each fish and marine plant have their own fascinating beautiful color.
This set of works shows the scenery I saw from the first point of view during diving and processed it with my unique artistic language.
Social media, IG, ddededebo
In March I was going to go to France, and bought an iPad mini to take with me. Then the pandemic hit, the trip was cancelled, I started working from home, and I had this new iPad.
I’ve been making daily or almost daily collages with cut paper and glue for three years, since 2017. Since March I’ve downloaded one of these free apps and I’ve been making abstract digital drawings or paintings. They have numbers for titles.
My IG: annettakapon
Facebook: Annetta Kapon
Chuanyuan, Love in a Fallen City
Living as a foreigner in America, during the pandemic, Chuanyuan suddenly found herself tiny and helpless. Even if she can chat with her family via facetime, the simple greeting and story sharing cannot be physical hugs. Luckily, reading a book allows her to see another world, quiet and forget the nervousness. The series of ‘Love in a Fallen City’ is based on Eileen Chang’s novel. Every woman in the novel has a miserable life, but there is still a moment, or a gesture or eye contact feels lovely. Black and white ‘Love in the Fallen City’ are different from her regular practice because dreamy rainbow colors are her usual colors.
Under the circumstance of the pandemic, all human relationships are now concentrated in the virtual world through the Internet.
People’s thoughts, remarks and lives all appear in our vision which forms into photographs, movies, letters, and becomes a huge timeline.
In a pandemic situation, I have became more aware of my body.
The body includes my consciousness, spirituality including unconsciousness, and philosophical nature.
My work evokes and awakens the oblivion of the physical body in the current virtual world.
During these difficult times, making art is a way to stay focused in what is truly important. I am fortunate to have a home studio and everything I need to express what I am experiencing through art.
Every week has been the same for me, normal is no longer a word I use to describe my daily activities; to translate that into my art practice, I use a pendulum technique. This technique consists in hanging a sports water bottle filled with paint from the ceiling, using a piece of polypropylene swine, and letting it swing freely back and forth in a particular pattern, depending on the effect I want to create on the canvas. This is a repetitive and very relaxing process, sometimes “mesmerizing” as my youngest daughter once described while recording the making of one painting for my YouTube channel.
Using the pendulum technique, I have been able to use old and recycled paint. Some images look like planets or marbles; I want to fool the eye and capture the imagination of the viewer. I feel that by doing so, I am changing the conversation and giving myself the opportunity to incorporate new techniques into my practice.
Instagram: @erv_art_platform and @edwinvasquez
One would think that with the abundance of free time suddenly available, an artist would seize the opportunity to produce volumes of new and innovative work. For me, that has not been the case. For reasons which I will not attempt to analyze here, the lockdown has thus far left me short on inspiration and motivation.
Instead of looking to the cosmos for stimulation, I have turned literally to my own backyard, where I have been drawing weeds. Turning inward, rendering these overlooked and close-by underfoot things has been oddly relaxing and soothing. Along the way, I’ve gained more of an appreciation for their prickly beauty. Some have such beautiful flowers and forms that I wonder why we arbitrarily dismiss these plants as weeds while embracing others as show pieces. I can only hope that my fellow humans will display as much pluck and persistence in the face of adversity as the lowly weed.
Will these humble weed portraits lead me back to bigger and more ambitious works? Who knows. But for the moment they’re OK and the drawings aren’t bad.
Instagram – peter_hess_art
I’ve been working in ceramics for a long time now, but I started drawing on a regular basis while I was recovering from surgery in 2018. The drawing seemed to help with the anxiety I have around climate change and other looming problems that seem overwhelming. Currently I am working on rice paper with sumi ink, acrylic ink and graphite. While I didn’t set out to have the ceramics and works on paper coincide in a series, that’s exactly what is happening. Themes generated in this current series range from sadness around climate change, the nature of time, my place in the universe and surrender. I had a solo show scheduled in June at Gallery 825 (LAAA.) That show has been rescheduled for spring of 2021.
At the beginning of the pandemic, I saw an article in The New York Times regarding a project created by Liza Lou. She invited anyone interested to create a “comfort blanket”, a blanket made from things one had on hand. The materials could be anything; the only requirement was that nothing could be purchased. This is intended to be a community project that we would work on together even though we are apart. We post our progress on Instagram
#apartogether_art Throughout the quarantine, we have been posting our projects and have had shared results on Zoom.
My primary practice is drawing and installation and my drawings are multi-layered accumulations of objects, architecture and patterns, both realistic and abstract.
My “comfort blanket” is made on a large canvas onto which I had silkscreened images from my drawings, my Mother’s scarves and tea towels, my aunt’s Christmas decorating supplies and various fabric and jewelry “odds and ends”. It is a departure from my usual practice of drawing, but I view it as a drawing made with thread and fabric.
My Pandemic Story
These 5×7 inch drawings came from a need for distraction, stress relief and getting out the overwhelming thoughts in my head as we went into month 5 and 6 of the Pandemic.
The first work in the series, I created for “Call and Response Round 6” as a reaction to a poem and photograph Genie Davis had sent me. The photo was of a beautiful tree with an abundance of branches extending into the sky in all different directions. It was chaotic, yet ordered and peaceful.
I have always loved the majesty and history of nature and trees especially. I knew exactly how to respond. I took my favorite, everyday gel pen and started scribbling on the watercolor paper.
It was a release, a cathartic act of mark making, a peaceful majesty that only a tree could understand. I needed to fill up the paper with my thoughts. Not in text form, but rather in a visual documentation that I am familiar with. It helped.
I used every ballpoint pen, gel pen, fine point sharpie and marker in my arsenal to tell my story through these drawings. They morphed into and collided with my series “My Imaginary Wall” in which I use circles and dots as a metaphor for a psychological wall I am trying to traverse in order to overcome my eating disorder.
This is the first work I have looked at as a whole and thought, I don’t want to sell it. I want to continue adding to it and keep it complete. I realized it is “My Pandemic Story” with various chapters and psychologies.
Postscript: I drew most of the work while binge watching various shows: Midsomer Murders, Prime Suspect, Death in Paradise, Endeavor, Hinterland, Shetland, Deadwater Fell, Inspector George Gently…