Ellen Wetmore: Happenstance


Cliff Village


Columbia Vultures

What Lives Under Those Roman Pines

Hiroshige in the Water Dec


Fishing Geisha

Ellen Drawing

This drawing set works with the problems 1) no time to draw because of my job; 2) love to travel; 3) terrified that I cannot draw well, even though I’ve been at it for 35 years. Raúl Gonzalez 3rd once told me that he stains papers with coffee to make them less perfect (less glaringly white) and to suggest images to work with. At the time I was teaching myself paper marbling and discovered myself in possession of may accidents of paper that needed a purpose. I bound them for a trip and let the blobs on the paper suggest ideas, like you do when you are cloud spotting or doing a Rorschach test. I have a very busy brain so this part is easy. The drawing gave my hands something to do that is less soul destroying than playing on my phone. The format fits inside my bag. The colors are already in place from the marbling process. My rules are to draw only in ink, so I have to live with every mark, and to draw the first thing I see on the page, no matter how dumb it is. I use Faber Castel pens mostly. I’m also an art history nerd, so I spend time with other people’s art and transcribe their images too. I can tell where I’ve been when I was drawing by the stuff in the image. Seattle? Bogotá? Rome? Or maybe the Fitchburg Art Museum. It’s all in there. I’ve been working on this since about December 2015 and there are over 120. Sometimes I can do 1 per day. The ones with ring holes in them are about 7” x 11”. The work runs tangent to other visual research I’ve been doing on Roman Grotesque decoration in architecture. The ancient romans played games with depictions of space to make their rooms look bigger and to enable a running visual commentary on the occupants of the space. Escher and de Chirico key into this stuff in their images too. I use this strategy in my drawings to change scale and perspective values as the eye moves across them, creating a dreamy and chaotic surface. 

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