Monday, May 4, 2009

Where do balloons come from?

It's funny that since I started doing woodblock prints, many of the images I've done were mined from old sketchbooks. Lots of drawings, still lives, doodles and life drawings that I kept or always liked have been reemerging as subjects for my prints.

When I was in Italy, I opened an old moving box that was full of art supplies and had three or four old sketchbooks. In one of them as I sat leafing through the pages I found a page cut out from an older sketchbook that I must have pulled out when I packed.

While they say the olfactory sense is our most primitive link to memory I find these scribbles and sketches to be amazing memory triggers that can pull me back from over 30 years in this instance to a dusty studio in Gainesville, Florida and a life drawing class that I frequented in what seems must have been a previous life.

I still remember the model. She showed up late to the class and was dressed in a leopard skin leotard that was several sizes too small. She had boots and a feather boa/scarf and a big leather belt. This is the drawing I did of her. I remember as she walked around during a break that she hated it. I had added probably 20 lbs. to her frame and she didn't appreciate it and wanted to know why I had made her look so fat. I don't remember what I said but I do remember thinking that as badly dressed as she was when she came in I thought she was beautiful naked. I know I didn't say that though; I was as shy then as I was circumspect.

But that image of her walking in persists and in the cut out drawing I preserved there's a funny shape to the upper right. But when I started pulling it out and making copies and putting a border around the drawing it became a balloon. In case there was any doubt I also wrote in cursive, "Balloon".

In my next post I'll show how "balloon" becomes a print.


  1. I like her elbow, particularly,lovely simple elbowish. Why no head?

  2. A good tale to go with the sketches, I like both. I look forward to seeing the print.


  3. It's true that a sketchbook can transport you instantly back to the time and place where you made the sketches. I think it's because you're so "present" when you make a drawing.

  4. There is a head. Her Left arm is held bent over the top of it. She had this big mop of teased, yellow hair that hid pretty much everything from the angle I was drawing from.
    I thought of adding more hair lines but then just left it alone. Maybe it is too vague.

  5. Oh, I kind of see now. I would clarify the head position a bit or change it. I like the dialog between the balloon and her breast, if that is indeed what is happening.

  6. Great story! I'm curious about the board with removable pegs in the final picture. Do you use that to carve on?

  7. I got the idea from Baren Forum and Graham Sholes website. It's basically a homemade folding table with 1/2" holes drilled into it to accept pieces of wooden dowel pegs. I glued on strips of nonskid rug pad and it holds the board near vertically when you carve with the toh the outlines. It's easy to move the board around and you don't have to sit bent over.
    Grahams website has a link on his advertisement to his DVD that shows how to make one.