Puzzling

I haven’t looked at much artwork up close for quite a while. I love a lot of the work of my fellow bloggers, but mostly I look at them on the small format of my phone. The ideal way to view visual art is in person: at galleries or museums. Sad to say I don’t do that much either these days. For me, the next best thing is the art book. You have probably seen them. They are thick, with heavy glossy paper, weighing anywhere from 3 to 7 pounds.

All I need is a starting point. Once I have that, visual feedback provides me possibilities for the next mark I make on the paper. I took my inspiration today from the book Paul Klee, by William Grohmann, published by Harry N. Abrams, Inc. New York, 1967. It was amazing just to flip through the black and white drawings and the color plates. I got a lot of ideas.

Today’s watercolor experiment:

Thought process behind today’s design:

Thumbing through the Klee book got me thinking in terms of line drawings, particularly facial profiles. Combining this idea with the notion of a puzzle piece was the key to the rest of the composition. A puzzle piece is well known as a symbol for autism. Much of my blog, has been devoted to unravelling my thoughts and feelings about my brother Mike who is autistic, very low functioning and has never spoken.

Redefining the picture plane:

I reshaped the form of the picture plane by the long contours at the left and right of the paper. I did have the idea of a facial profile in mind when I drew them. I neutralized the space outside the contour by filling it with a warm sepia wash. I flipped the paper so the profile was upside down.

Other symbols:

One of the prominent features of my brother’s profile is his protruding lower lip. I drew his profile on the hand side of the newly-positioned (upside down) paper. I used cadmium red to fill in this feature with color. Mike’s eyes never seemed to work together. One or the other of them always seemed to be looking in a different direction. Now, he has a cataract, which has left a blue film over his eye. I included this in his profile.

Directly above Mike’s schematized profile are two eyes inside an old fashioned glasses frame. The image of these large eyes, focused on a close object, is what I see when our grandson looks at us when me connect via FaceTime. He is focused on the phone, trying to figure out what it is. Encasing those wondering eyes in a pair of ‘old man’ glasses seems an appropriate metaphor for my relationship with my autistic brother when I was a child.

I hadn’t thought of it at the time I drew it in, but the eye shape on the other side of the jagged line has the shape an appearance of the enameled eye pieces that the ancient Egyptians used in place of the dead person’s eyes as part of the burial rituals.

Other factors:

Ambiguity of profile on the left side:

If one looks at this study from afar, the eye-glasses combination looks like it belongs to the profile immediately below. This represents, to me, the genetic closeness of siblings even taking into account the huge disparity in other characteristics of the autistic, low functioning individual and the neurotypical one.

Jagged division:

The jagged line divides the overarching profile defined by the warm sepia shapes on either side of the paper. It also seems to divide the dead eye on the right from what is going on at the back of the head of this profile. Perhaps it separates the physical world from the dream world.

Watercolor Sketch - Puzzling

Puzzling
9″x12″ 140# Cold Pressed Watercolor Block

I am fairly happy with this design. I would like to continue thinking about it, however. One area which doesn’t seem to fit with my idea of the overall tone of this study, is the cartoonish quality of the glasses component of the profile on the left side of the picture.

I welcome any constructive critique. Thank you for reading.

 

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