Back to Lamp Black Images

I've been working with an unusual drawing medium for the last three years. I begin by coating paper with lamp black-powdered pigment mixed with water. When the water evaporates it leaves a rich black-velvet surface that can erased so the white paper creates an image, a kind of reverse drawing in short. I draw with erasers.

The subjects for my new work are common objects drawn from direct observation single images that appear to emerge from a black background. My intent is to create stark, confrontational images that are direct and almost primitive in composition. To achieve this effect, I draw the object larger than life (up to eight feet) and isolate it from its characteristic color and familiar context.

Working in monochrome provides a common setting for diverse objects that emphasizes form, light, pattern and texture. These simplified, unadorned drawings provoke the viewer to reexamine an everyday object in terms of form and matter. They also invoke ideas, analogies and visual metaphors. My aim is to transcend obvious associations implied by a commonplace image so it can be perceived in a new way.

I weigh the attributes of an object's sculptural form and its potential symbolism when choosing a subject. For example, a white feather drawn to human scale becomes a study of light, texture and translucence. At the same time, it may suggest flight, death, resurrection, etc.

I also consider the relationship between the images. Two objects may share similar forms but have different connotations, or a particular group of images may emphasize disparate qualities, such as masculine/feminine, etc. Part of my process is to explore how the symbolism of an image is altered depending on the other images that surround it. Installation becomes a second compositional process that extends beyond the original act of drawing.

T.S. 1993