Graphite Gallery

Crossed Structures

Crossed Structures (2007), graphite, 22x27-3/4"

This is a conceptual landscape inspired by Casper David Friedrich’s painting, The Wreck of the Hope (1824). Friedrich's painting supposedly depicted a shipwreck, but the wreck is conspicuously missing. The stern is the only visible part of the ship, and it’s little more than a dark shape protruding from the ice. Friedrich's painting is really about the great flows of ice climbing over one another in this frigid, desolate environment. I wanted to explore those ideas of abstract physical structure and composition in landscape. I wanted to build an illusionistic space with the wreckage forms I use in my drawings and twist the work of 19th century landscape painters. I replace the sublime beauty of nature with the sublime beauty of man-made and natural catastrophe.

Spiny Structures

Spiny Structures (2007), graphite, 27-1/4x19-1/4".

I explored transparency as an approach to simultaneous composition. When I compose a drawing, I usually make hierarchical decisions about my forms and structures. As I work, I decide that this form fits in front of that form but behind these other forms, producing a spatial hierarchy. Sometimes, I find the arrangement of forms does not work. Then, I make adjustments to correct the problems. This time, I decided to let everything exist simultaneously, so that all the forms pass through each other. I used a gradual shift in value to suggest spatial depth. This was a demanding technical challenge, but I’m pleased with the results.

Wave Motion 02

Wave Motion 02 (2006-7), graphite, 21-1/2x11-1/4".

Here, I explored the effect of movement and ambiguity between positive and negative space. I also experimented with marks and textures intended to make the forms look as if they had been sitting outside for years. I am usually more concerned with separation of planes and a sense of space than surface texture, but it’s fun to play with textures. The suggestion of texture adds immeasurably to the visual interest of the work. It seems counterproductive to laboriously render a texture onto every surface in the drawing, but I increasingly rely on marks, surface forms, and patches of value to suggest texture.

Wave Motion 01

Wave Motion 01 (2006-7), graphite, 21-1/2x11-1/4"

This began with my desire to bring more biological forms into a composition. It was also the first composition to reflect the direct effect of music on my work. Listening to Stravinsky and other orchestral composers, I began to visualize sweeping curves as forms. I also began using longer, more energetic marks to give a sense of dynamic force. Fully rendered, this is a surprisingly frenetic image. It exhibits signs of simultaneous composition, allowing a viewer to follow more than one curve through the drawing. It’s related to Wave Motion 02. I sometimes show these two as a diptych. Wave Motion 01 sits on the left, Wave Motion 02 on the right. I may use them as a starting point for a large, square composition that unites and amplifies the best of both drawings.

Hanging Structure

Hanging Structure (2005). Graphite, 17-5/8x5"

I made this small study to explore surface texture and notions of spatial depth. It seems like a portion of a much larger drawing, and proved that I could use mundane graphite pencils with enough skill and sensitivity to make pencil drawings suitable for presentation in an exhibition.

Aggressive Interpretations

Aggressive Interpretations (2005). Graphite on paper, 18x26"

As an academic study, this was a boring drawing. So, I cropped it and converted it into a diptych. I executed the left half as a landscape using cues from the drawing and wreckage forms. I executed the right half as an investigation of complexity and simplicity. I juxtaposed the soft, smooth, simple outer forms of the figure with an eruption of hard, jagged, complex inner forms. I was inspired by Arnaldo Pomodoro’s sculptures. His works are frequently smooth cylinders split open or "skinned" to reveal a network of delicate metal cells and forms. The outer shell is like the relatively smooth surface of the body while the inner structure suggests the complexity within all of us.


Graphite pencils seem so ordinary, so ubiquitous, and so forgiving, but using them with skill is more difficult than one might think. I use them well enough to do my work. I use an additive mark-making process. I build up my surface on the sharpened point of my pencils, using the pencil to apply graphite to the surface. I do my best to preserve the surface of the paper, applying sufficient force to mash the paper fibers only as a last resort for reinforcing the darkest darks. The results are reflected in my drawings.