As I continue to draw in my COVID Journal it is changing along with the times and becoming something new. So I have decided to call it The Beautiful Horrific to reflect our horrifying time, and look for the beauty that comes with it. The following are some new pages from the month of June. It has been overwhelming and eye opening.
During my time at home in relative isolation, I created a bound journal from scraps that have been in my studio for up to fifteen years. This Ethiopian binding has quarter sawn wooden covers that were incorrectly made for my edition Gules, and pages of an old atlas that I’ve always thought would come in handy one day. This finally seemed the ideal paper for pages of a journal about a world pandemic.
Eventually, I will fill the book with bats and butterflies cut from maps of China to show the spread of this disease. I began cutting bats and realized pretty quickly that this has to be the last step or it will be very hard to draw on the pages. I want this book to take the form of a travel journal, stuffed with papers or tickets picked up along the way.
My first thoughts began with – where did this begin? A bat, a pangolin?
My next thoughts had to do with what people are doing. I feel there have been so many moments of beauty and thankfulness in the world. This is something I focused on to alleviate the shock and fear. I have been working on linked type, drawn with purely geometrical shapes. I love the negative spaces the letters and numbers create. Even when I was having an off day, I could spend my time drawing text. It felt like a meditation.
I have had some dark moments that couldn’t be denied. I try to keep the politics out of my journal and focus on numbers and facts. Iranians drinking methanol as a cure could not be ignored.
Many hopeful moments include the return of nature. Finding animals in places that are usually occupied by humans and the clearing of smog. These are things that give me great comfort and I hope can continue when the world begins to pick up speed again. I dearly hope that we have evolved in some way from this experience.
Although I am posting the pages in a linear fashion, I haven’t been creating them from beginning to end. I jump from place to place, reflecting on what is happening in a particular area. I date each page so I know when they were finished. There are many pages (and regions) that I have yet to fill.
Working in a random fashion I don’t often get a sense of the whole. It’s nice to see the images all together in this blog to get a feel for what I’m doing.
This is the page that I keep going back to. My home. Where I track the cases and deaths every so often, when I feel like I can face the numbers. The numbers are huge but the individual stories are heartbreaking. The redwing blackbirds are back and active, but this is the strangest spring. Watching and listening to the birds has become a daily pastime.
I’m happy that the last couple of pages are hopeful – blue skies over LA and Hawkbill Turtles migrating to the sea, on a beach that they have all to themselves. One way or another, nature always wins.
Well a lot has happened since my art weekend in early February. We are all dealing with a lockdown due to Covid 19, and while home I am continuing to draw every day. It is one thing that makes me feel good. I’ve also been keeping a journal made with map pages in an Ethiopian binding (to be included in a future post) and creating geometric lettering. I find the measuring and the mindless making of shapes very relaxing. The drawing of the owl above is the first to incorporate this lettering into a composition .
I have been wanting to give the coyote drawings meaning, and although I was moving in a direction my ideas were still unclear, so I let them rest for a while. Now I feel they clearly stand as a pack in support of one another, in contrast to the social isolation of the owl. The hands that I began drawing before coronavirus entered our lives, were suddenly reaching, touching and supporting. We will get to the other side of this and when we do, I plan to do a lot more hugging! We’re in this together.