Sunday, March 19, 2017

National Weather Service Biennale 2017 - "Dust Devil" Drawing

"Dust Devil in a Pick-Your-Own-Field"
40" x 32"
Charcoal and Carbon Pencil on Canson Board

I just shipped off my big drawing to the upcoming National Weather Service Biennale in Norman, Oklahoma.  I'm excited to be in this show for a lot of reasons. I've been experimenting with large drawings for several months and it's exciting to see one get accepted into a national show. Plus, it's a big departure from my usual subject matter (figurative oil paintings).

I had to write an Artist's Statement about this drawing for the show. This is what I wrote:

  • I was in a pick-your-own pumpkin field in Arizona with my three young children on a late October day. We were startled by a sudden narrow spiral of dirt that began to whirl in the rows of withered stalks, climbing higher and growing stronger as we watched it float and churn toward us. There was nowhere to go and it happened very fast. We huddled together and covered our faces as it passed through us, blowing dirt through our hair and blasting our skin and clothes with little stones and leaves. Our visitor left as quickly as it came, leaving us energized, as if we had tobogganed down a snowy hill together, breathless and grateful for a safe landing.

It's a little embarrassing to be sending a drawing of a small dust devil and writing about my experience with it to an exhibition in one of the world's capitals of tornados. People from Oklahoma really, really know the horror of tornados. I think tornados are some of the scariest things on the planet, although tsunamis are right up there as well. I strongly suspect that the brave people from Oklahoma would scorn a little dust devil.

A dust devil seems mercurial,  unexpectedly sudden and random, no long scary music buildup, no watching the heavy sky darken and churn while you beat on the storm cellar door hoping Auntie Em will let you and your little dog, too, inside. It just zips cheerfully through the bright sky, throws some dust and debris around and then dissipates, a little message sent via air mail that anything can happen to shake you up, even in the middle of a warm, boring day.

The show opens on April 23, 2017 at the National Weather Service at the University of Oklahoma in Norman, Oklahoma. For more information click here.

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