Drawing With NO Figures is a Challenge

My art has deep roots in the world of whimsy and cartoons so drawing with no figures is a challenge! My hand has a natural tendency to draw an animal in this corner reaching towards another animal or flower just over there. But for the first thirty paintings and drawings of my new series I am not allowing myself to add any recognizable figures to the work.

Why would an artist limit themselves like this?

For me, there are a couple of reasons.

  1. I like a challenge because it stretches me creatively and that’s always a good thing. Discoveries happen and permeate all through the rest of my art and even my life!
  2. To allow my art to be more attractive to collectors who think my pop art is a slight bit juvenile. Too sweet or silly to hang in their homes. My pop art gets a lot of positive feedback through the various social media platforms I post it on, but sales could be stronger.
drawing with no figures is a challenge
drawing with no figures is a challenge

Diane Varney

You better believe that’s Art lil’ fella!

Getting Prepared

My art pal, Diane Varney (left) and I hopped on a first class bus to Mexico City. Destination: the annual art expo there. I wanted to immerse myself in the world of contemporary art, to spot trends, follow focus and see how other creatives were envisioning their messaging in the current time. ZonaMaco is Latin America’s leading art expo. There were a plethora of galleries there with an abundance of current and recent international contemporary artists. They’re working in all manner of media.

What stood out for me were the:

  • bold statements that seemed careless or apparently incidental. Paintings with unfinished edges, crappy drawings given beautiful frames and plenty of white wall space. Assemblages that looked worn or, at best, unkempt.
  • reverence given to recent local popular artists (Fernando Botero, Leonor Carrington, etc). These are artists whose work I can totally appreciate and find completely accessible. Both worked with drawing, painting and sculpture (lost wax bronzes)
  • some of the obsessive work of younger artists (the giant scroll of inter-related drawing unrolled up a 12′ wall of Yanieb Fabre and the collaged paint chip assemblages of a young Guatemalan artist collected from decaying buildings and walls throughout his travels, whose name I can’t remember. NOTE: why, of why, did I not just ask him for his business card? I need to get a lot better at that again, lol.

But there were two other major events my partner in adventure and I scoped out as well. Material, another expo, held in a defunct sports stadium that was even more international than MACO. And finally there was ACME, held in a decaying, but styled, 200 year old apartment building and featured the works of truly emerging artists and galleries, again with an international flair.

drawing with no figures is a challenge

The exquisite decay of the ACME venue was perfect for the art….

The Influence

The three day adventure also allowed us to spend time at Mexico City’s fantastic Art Deco building, Museo del Palacio de Belles Artes. We took in some Diego Rivera murals. We also stopped in at his and Frida Kahlo’s co-joined houses where we got a feel for their lives as artists. Diego’s studio was wonderful but I was too cheap to pay the extra 30 pesos to be allowed to take photos, sorry.

This art adventure definitely covered the bases and helped kickstart my interest in taking a new approach with my own art. I did this sketch one morning in between the day’s major excursions. It is definitely different from my pop art! But there are familiar elements too.

Digital Drawing 002 CDMX February 2018

I’m looking forward to seeing where this new work takes me!

If you’re interested, too, follow this project on my new Instagram account and Facebook Page.