Drawings of Dad

I believe these drawings of my dad are the most meaningful art I have done. Why be an artist if not to capture/express something important in your life? Do you have something unique to say? I feel that about these drawings I began in 1986 after my father had a heart attack. You can read about that here. I took a three month leave from my work and moved home (Aberdeen, SD) to help my mother care for him. The days were a routine of getting him up, feeding him, dressing him, preparing lunch, feeding him, putting him to bed for a nap, going to the YMCA to play basketball, getting him up etc. Feeding him took the most time and that is when I had the best opportunity to make drawings. I also have photographs but I never look at them.

I have always drawn with pencil, charcoal, etc. and kept sketchbooks. 1986 was about two years after I started my Field Report series. I was making a lot of drawings from nature and direct observation. Their style was ordinary until June 7th, 1985 , when I did a self portrait before going to play basketball and another when I returned. The adrenalin was buzzing. Instead of carefully observing and drawing what I saw in the mirror, I was impulsive and immediate. I built my new self portrait with pencil slashes and jabs. I would call this “action drawing.” I had never seen anything like it before, though of course I was well aware of “action painting”. My drawings looked nothing like those. This was a real breakthrough for me. I liked the immediacy and being more involved with the moment. I brought this to making portraits of my father in his deteriorating state. If he moved after I started, I included the new position. Time lapse drawings?

I must also give a shout out to the art critic John Berger. He was my favorite art critic at the time and he had written an article in the Village Voice about drawing his father. Making my drawings, I felt a real communication with him. I valued the connection. In 1984, I had shared some letters with him but I never wrote back to tell about drawings of my dad. I should. I will.

(There is another version of this portfolio that uses a uniqe navigation and display.)