Transparency and Layers in Drawing

Duralar Test

I was working out on the treadmill at the gym today, when I started visualizing this idea of an “infinite” landscape. I had noticed earlier that in the photograph of the maquette I made yesterday, the printing of the ink was heavy enough that you could seen the image from the inside of the ring. I immediately liked the idea of a ring format with images on both the inside and outside.

This got me thinking about transparency as a possibility in the drawing surface in order to facilitate the inside/outside view points. I started visualizing sheets of Dura-Lar (an alternative to acetate) layered on top of each other in a giant, slender ring shape, hung at eye level from the ceiling with invisible wires so the drawing appears suspended in the air. Each sheet would be sanded in order to create a textured surface to draw on, and also to avoid complete transparency. With layers of transparent surfaces for the drawing, this would also create a situation where different figures are seen at different levels of clarity, depending on whether you are standing inside the ring or outside of it. The next step would be to have multiple rings of different sizes hanging from the ceiling, arranged almost like planets in a solar system.

When I got into the studio I started sanding some leftover Dura-Lar scraps. I sketched in some quick figures and started overlapping the Dura-Lar pieces on top of each other. For a very brief moment, I did contemplate the idea of placing these drawings with a lightbox behind them to illuminate them. I quickly abandoned that idea when it became clear how unflattering the light would be to the crayon marks. At first I only did two layers, but in the end added six layers total; the idea being that I needed enough layers of sanded Dura-Lar to create a nearly opaque white.

I immediately liked the effects of the sanded Dura-Lar surface: it reminded me a lot of the sanded plexiglass surface that I used for the monotypes. I stored the monotype plates on my window before printing them, and my husband Alex commented to me on how he liked the atmosphere and texture of the sanded plexiglass. I knew that I would never exhibit the monotype plates themselves, so this Dura-Larsurface seems to capture that quality in a better context.

As I worked some crayon tests on the Dura-Lar, it became obvious that only the softest, greasiest lithographic crayons were going to work. The other aspect of this surface I immediately liked was the potential to smudge with the lithographic rubbing ink, a technique that didn’t work as fluidly on paper. Next time I do this I’ll use finer grit sandpaper and sand everything more thoroughly.

I was so excited about these format ideas that I made a quick trip into town to pick up some Dura-Lar. While I was there I also picked up some drafting vellum and some matte Dura-Lar, to see if those might be possibilities as well.

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2 thoughts on “Transparency and Layers in Drawing

  1. Even as seen digitally above, this is beautiful. I’d love to see what this looks like in person. The direction of the sanding marks really activate the space, there is nothing stiff about this. It reminds me of what I love most about where I live – wide views of fog over water, marsh, and fields.

  2. I’m glad to hear that you think the space is being activated here, that was an issue that I think I didn’t fully resolve in the monotypes. I always struggle between choosing to tighten up and when to just let it all fly. When I take a more controlled approach, I feel guilty that the work isn’t more gestural. When I work more gesturally, I sometimes feel scatter brained and out of control- it seems like the grass is always greener on the other side! In the end, I think I’m looking for my work to be executed in a controlled manner, but to have the illusion of being gestural and spontaneous, a tough balance to achieve at times.

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