Tardigrades

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These are images that I made for projection in Laynie Browne’s play about the immutable invertebrates called tardigrades, or water bears. They can live in outrageously inhospitable environments. They can live through being boiled, dessicated, frozen.

Ortega’s Auto Shop, Santa Rosa, NM

4″ x 6″
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Moving across the country this week, car broke down in northeast New Mexico. Spent the day at the Ortega family’s auto shop where Vivian got celery from the nice women and played with Biscuit the tiny dog. They fixed the car enough to drive another day across the plains under vast skies and vapor trails. Now broken down in Ft. Smith, Arkansas where I didn’t buy a radiator from some sketchy truckers in a parking lot and now have time to post a drawing to the Workaday. Better than watching the crud they have on the tv here at the car shop.

Kind of enjoying the delays, good to slow down and appreciate our country and all its many simultaneous realities.

Land

8″ x 10″
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There’s a Work-a-Day Sale going on right now! If you’d like to buy anything on here, now’s the time, they’re about to go into deep storage for a few months while we move.

CLICK HERE to see the available pieces (about 250 of ‘em) and if any grab your eye, email me (noahsaterstrom@gmail.com) before Wednesday of this week.

Meanwhile, the vikings are still circling the orb.

Waltzing Matilda

8″ x 10″
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For some reason, we learned the Australian folk song “Waltzing Matilda” in third grade music class.

Wikipedia has a great synopsis: “The song narrates the story of an itinerant worker, or ‘swagman’, making a drink of tea at a bush camp and capturing a sheep to eat. When the sheep’s owner arrives with three police officers to arrest the worker for the theft, the worker commits suicide by drowning himself in the nearby watering hole, after which his ghost haunts the site.”

I’m not sure how this made it into the Southfield Elementary curriculum. Or, for that matter, why I remember it.

Rabbit & Cart

5″ x 7″
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I feel like if I could read the text I’d be able to get a grip on what’s happening here. It’s like the dream I had where I was trying to read text on a piece of paper but the words were upside-down, so I turned the paper around and they were still upside down.

Cannon

7″ x 10″

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Hard to say whether the cannon is firing into a house or out of one. Either way. This is an unused vignette from Babboo’s Moving Pictures; I opted for the cannon shooting the bottle off a stump, more action happens, though I was looking forward to the sound of this shattering window.

Ghost and Mirror

7″ x 11″
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“These pieces, without preconceived connections, were written lazily from day to day, following my needs, the way it came, without pushing, following the wave, always attending to what was most pressing, in a slight wavering of truth – never to construct, simply to preserve.” – Henri Michaux

Hands and Arms

11″ x 14″
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“I think of everything I do as a form of drawing.”

“Every day I awake with the idea that ‘today I must teach myself to draw’. I have also each day to experience the fact that images can only emerge out of chaos.”

I love these quotes from Leon Kossoff, hilariously obsesses with drawing – as one must be. Images can only emerge out of chaos.

Back to Back

11″ x 14″
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A few uplifting quotes. Uplifting to me anyway.

“To say that in painting you are always working with the unknown – in practice, that’s devastating, if you really take it on. How can you know anything for certain about what you are doing?” – Ken Kiff

“My friends tend to be writers. I think writers and painters are really all the same – we just sit in our rooms.” – Howard Hodgkin

“I constantly have to negotiate with my doubts.” – Peter Doig

“You have to have a doubt sandwich. If you have the doubt at the front, you won’t do it, and if you have doubt at the end you’re probably going to kill yourself.” – Amy Sillman

“We are not all connected. We are bags of skin. We are all separate bags
of thinking skin.” – AL Kennedy, from What Becomes

House on Red (or Walking Back to Holland)

12″ x 12″
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There is this story about how Van Gogh, when he was a young man, got obsessed with a certain painter. He wanted so badly to meet this painter, he decided to walk from Holland, where he lived, to France, where the painter lived. He walked for a week and when he got there he stood in front of the painter’s house in the darkness.

The windows glowed as the old man finished his dinner and sat by the fireplace and lit his pipe. His wife was hemming a pair of trousers. The old painter stood up and poured more brandy into his wife’s, then his, glass. He sat back in his chair.

Van Gogh stood in the darkness, imagining himself knocking on the door. He spent the next week walking back to Holland.

Georges Perec, 1970

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I like to make drawings of people of note. Writers, painters, scientists, musicians and so on. Not to deliberate too much, or struggle to make them just right, but just a quick thing. Here’s one.

Gilda

8″ x 12″
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There once was a miller with a beautiful daughter named Gilda. The miller told Gilda about his lie. The end.

Reading Rumpelstiltskin to an eight-month old who was trying to eat the pages, turned into this abbreviated tale. Alternate title “Rump_skin”.

Balloon

10″ x 10″

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A passage that didn’t make it into “Babboo’s Moving Pictures” animation.

Mt. Vernon, NY

6″ x 8″

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I feel like now would be a good time to stop making paint color called “flesh.” First of all, everyone should be able to mix whatever color it’s supposed to be using various amounts of red, blue, yellow and white. Also, it could be better described as “peach.” Also, and it’s racist. This is the first and last time I’ll use “flesh” from this new pack of paint before I throw out the tube.

Toodleloo

11″ x 14″
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I recently found out “Toodleloo” comes from french À tout à l’heure, used in the same way – see you later. “Toodleloo” is what will be inscribed on my grandmother’s tombstone. Rest in peace, Margaret Wesley.

Gone to Shubuta (v.)

30″ x 40″

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Big drawings.  All the people going to Shubuta, fleeing troubles, or returning to them.  Snake, tree, horse, a picnic on what would be called ‘the hanging bridge’.  And the thumbnails need to be bigger.  There that’s better.

Night Crawlers

13″ x 13″

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There was a man who was so disturbed by the sight of his own shadow and so displeased with his own footsteps that he determined to get rid of both. The method he hit upon was to run away from them. So he got up and ran. But every time he put his foot down there was another step, while his shadow kept up with him without the slightest difficulty. He attributed his failure to the fact that he was not running fast enough. So he ran faster and faster without stopping until he finally dropped dead. He failed to realize that if he merely stepped into the shade, his shadow would vanish, and if he sat down and stayed still, there would be no more footsteps.
(Chuang Tzu, 4th c. BCE)

Vikings & Bodoni

6″ x 8″

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A viking ship and some letters in the elegant Bodoni font. I’ve been doing a lot of middle-of-the-night studying of fonts. The world of typeface design is complex, intelligent, and sensitive. It’s also a warren of deeply held, and militantly defended opinions about the most minute minutiae, it’s hilarious. Not sure where the viking ship is coming from.

One Day Old

5″ x 8″
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A quick sketch in the hospital room last week. This will be a well-documented child.

What We Were in the Olden Times

5″ x 8″
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Blue ballpoint pens are, I think, terrible to write with but the lines sling all around, good for drawing. The river below. Above is a sketch of this little lady from a group of plaster Fisher-Price casts I did years ago. In this she’s maybe an ancestor, or celestial something.

Hush (Hat)

5″ x 8″

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Here are a few small sketches of family photographs from the first few decades of the 20th century. I enjoy peering into the pool. The hush is the hush of time.

Hush (Drill)

18″ x 24″

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I’ve had a policy of not including outside sources on the Work-a-day page, but this seems necessary.

On Sept 25, 1864, an ancestor of mine wrote a letter to her daughter from the family home ‘Sweet Auburn’ outside Natchez, Miss. To save paper, which was in low supply, the letter was cross-written. This is such an anomaly of Victorian letter writing, happened quite a bit during a time when formal letter writing was common, but paper was not, and postage expensive. The penmanship is so elegant, but when it’s written on top of itself it gets all jangled up. The writing, nearly indecipherable, is about the current (bad) state of things (war).

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Then sixty-five years later, the letter writer’s great-great-granddaughter (my grandmother) was learning to write in her seventh grade class in Natchez. This is drill 20.

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The ancestors keep giving me stuff to draw about, I’m barely touching the surface here. More cross-writing/drawing to come.

Fern

8″ x 12″
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“I constantly have to negotiate with my doubts.” – Peter Doig

Pecans

18″ x 24″
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This drawing is based on two dimly xeroxed ancestral photographs taken by a family member in the 1910’s.

I recently read that Faulkner said his writing was a process of “sublimating the actual into the apocryphal.” One of the aspects I love about drawing is that its connection to ‘reality’ is always spurious. As it references one actuality, it simultaneously creates another, separate actuality.

Sources and Expenditures

9″ x 12″
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The snake is saying, “For me, drawing is a source of energy, while painting is the expenditure of energy.” I really have to say that’s my experience as well. As much as they have over-lapping concerns, the stylus and the brush are very different instruments and when I go looking for how an artist thinks, I look at their drawings. It’s like looking at their drawings gets you closer to the source of what motivates their ideas.

Twisting My Beard

6″ x 8″

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This one I’m twisting my beard, a nervous habit I can’t seem to break (though I honestly haven’t tried). Self-portraits often strike me as sad. I don’t make self-portraits very often, but I like seeing other people’s self-portraits. What a touching and awkward thing to record, studying and drawing one’s own face. I do love Jim Dine’s horribly awkward self-portraits. Rembrandt’s almost don’t count. Maybe my favorite self-portrait is old Bonnard in his later years, purple fists up in the bathroom mirror.

Weevil Sanders Goes to Town

6″ x 8″
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Last week I wanted to call the “Chicken and Beard Man” drawing something about Weevil Sanders. But I didn’t know who Weevil Sanders was and thought I would at some point, but I still don’t. So here he is on his way to town.

Why Is Six Afraid of Seven

6″ x 8″
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Because seven ate nine. On another note, the word stylus comes to us from Etruscan, as few words do.

Recently talking with Bill B. about polysemy and open meanings in drawing and writing. He said about one poem “as much polysemy as the poem can bear.” (phrasing taken from something Jane Freilicher said, about wanting “as much light as the painting can bear”).

Of the Federal Occupation

8″ x 10″
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I came across a photograph of a Confederate army camp. What struck me about the image was the manner of the soldiers’ poses, one draped over another’s lap, comfy as BFF’s at a sixth grade sleepover.

Collaborative Frieze

16″ x 140″
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I made this today with the students in my Drawing the Myth and Daydream class at the Drawing Studio.  It’s really long and so in order to see it, please click the image, then enlarge it again.  Look at all the archetypes and situations unfolding!  I love this strange thing.