BLAKE CARTER | GERMS


Scraps | Old Sketchbook
2017.December.10, 2:47pm
Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , ,

Sketchbook August 1995 - Whole coverMy brother Scott visited from Long Beach, California, and he brought me this water-damaged sketchbook from more than 20 years ago. I thought my old drawings might be kind of embarrassing. Scott’s an artist, he’s smart, and he thinks a lot. He suggested that it would be less important to me how the drawings looked, and more important remembering where I was when I drew the sketches. He’s often full of wisdom like that.

Sketchbook August 1995 - 1

Scott was right. The drawings were better than I’d thought they would be, but the trip down memory lane was even better. I finished college in 1994, and this sketchbook is from the year after. I’d just moved into my first apartment ever in Georgetown, south Seattle, and had a painting studio down the street that I shared with Scott. The place I lived in wasn’t so nice. I came home once to find a neighbor passed out on the stairs with a 2×4 in one hand and a case of Schmidt Ice in the other. A visiting girlfriend discovered that someone pooped in the communal shower. There was screaming and ambulances, and there was a mouse that lived in my stove. The opening page of the sketchbook reads “August 1995,” and towards the end of the book there’s a drawing dated November 1996.

Sketchbook August 1995 - 8

The drawings aren’t bad like I’d feared. This one on the right, like a lot of them, was based on art I saw in a magazine or book. I think the cats are from a Japanese ink painting I saw somewhere. The figures on the left remind me that I was reading Norman Mailer’s “Portrait of Picasso as a Young Man,” published that year.

Sketchbook August 1995 - 9

I drew these in the yard of my parent’s house in Gig Harbor, Washington. That’s Scott mowing the lawn. I was interested in blind line-drawings at the time, kind of makes everything look a bit cubist.

Sketchbook August 1995 - 19

I was totally fascinated with Francis Bacon, still am. He’d just died a few years before. Interesting how differently the inks on the left and right pages held up. These days I try to only use art materials that promise to be “archival quality.”

Sketchbook August 1995 - 26

Early Painting - Lamp and Wall

The studies above became part of my first oil painting. I’d painted with oils before, but just student work and none of it was very good. This one turned out well, I think. Friends teased me about the subject matter. I wanted something that would catch attention.

Sketchbook August 1995 - 10

Early Painting - Hand Sucking

The drawing to the right, above, also became part of a painting. I drew people as structures, like buildings or machines. Line quality and shapes meant more than the figures I was piecing together. You can tell I was looking at Picasso. The painting is acrylic on a failed oil painting. It’s now rolled up under my bed, falling to pieces.

Sketchbook August 1995 - 27

Early Painting - Landscape

Always fascinated by skeletons. Not sure where I was going with the horse sex thing, but there are a few in this sketchbook. The horse skull later made an appearance in my favorite oil painting from this time. I still have my paintings from this period, but they’re in bad disrepair because I painted on top of old paintings. Someone told me it didn’t matter, I just had to keep painting. It sounded good because I didn’t have money for new canvas every time I didn’t like a painting, but it was a mistake.

Sketchbook August 1995 - 28

More horse sex, and a copy of Otto Dix from a book.

Sketchbook August 1995 - 40

I think I thought there was something sexy about horse legs. For the record, I’ve never purposely peed on a shoe.

Sketchbook August 1995 - 33

Saw this chapel on a family vacation, maybe in Utah.

Sketchbook August 1995 - 60

Early Painting - Grass is greener

I got interested in things hanging by leather straps. Not really personally interested, but I thought it looked good. The above sketch turned into my largest painting to date. The painting contains a literary joke: “The grass is always greener” on the left side of the post.

Early Painting - Mightier than the Sword

I got pretty excited about jokes in paintings at the time. Friends had been teasing me about how I always had penises in my paintings, so in this one I didn’t paint the penis, but instead there’s text that reads “The … mightier than the sword,” leaving out the words “pen is” right where the missing penis would be. Brilliant! No one ever thinks it’s as funny as I do.

Sketchbook August 1995 - Steph on beach

Here’s one of my best memories to date, toward the end of the sketchbook. Me and my girlfriend at the time went camping together on the Baja Peninsula. We’d realized we weren’t perfect for each other, but decided to have a last hoo-rah trip anyway. I saw her once again after that, in Southeast Asia. It’s been almost twenty years since we said goodbye in Hoi An, Vietnam.

Sketchbook August 1995 - 96

I’m not sure whether this one on the left is based on a picture or something I just did freehand. Either way, I definitely had more patience than I do now. On the right the Clancy Brothers, from a photograph.

Sketchbook August 1995 - 32

It’s weird looking at these drawings from so long ago. They’re mine, but for the most part, I don’t remember drawing them. It reminds me that I can be a different person in different contexts. I recently heard an NPR podcast about the fallacy that people are born and live with a certain personality. You’d assume that it was a thread you could follow through someone’s life, but really, people adapt to the situations they experience.

Sketchbook August 1995 - 31

This old sketchbook is from 1995, when I was 23 years old. I turned 45 this October. My “art career” hasn’t really taken off (yet). I kind of put art in the back of my mind in my late 20s, and though I never stopped sketching and thinking about art, there was a gap of ten or so years when I didn’t push myself to make finished pieces I was proud of. I thought I’d never be able to make money from art, so I concentrated on other things. I came back to it about ten years ago. While working for a newspaper in Taiwan and interviewing artists for articles about their shows, I realized that I liked making art better than anything I’d done to pay bills or have health insurance or all that. So now I have a day job delivering beer that gives me three-day weekends, but really I’m an artist, and I’m happier with my artwork than I’ve ever been.


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