New work: my "inventory"

“Inventory” series prints on a table

I've been working on a new series of small drawings of things my daughter and I have found around our neighborhood this spring. With everybody stuck at home, Evelyn and I gradually stumbled into a daily ritual. We'd take the dog out for a walk each afternoon, and we'd talk about the things we saw changing around us: the flowers blooming and falling, the leaves growing, the colors changing, the bugs and birds and animals re-emerging as the weather turned warmer. Evelyn would come home with her pockets stuffed with whirligigs and buttercups and cicada shells, which she'd arrange in little taxonomic collections around the house.

Time to concentrate has been in short supply in lockdown, and I’ve had to put some of my bigger projects on hold while I’ve been treading water. One day I stumbled across a collection of John James Audubon’s bird drawings and I remembered how much I love his work. I love its simple sophistication, its clarity, and how it so adeptly serves as both scientific documentation and personal journal.

Japanese Maple leaves drawing and its reference

On that inspiration I started sketching the bits of "neighborhood ephemera" Evie compiled. I settled on a simple pattern: one subject, in black-and-white ink wash over an empty background; a square frame; a small, handwritten caption. These drawings are simple enough that I can usually finish one in a single day. That momentum is really satisfying, especially right now when I find it so easy to feel overwhelmed by everything else.

As I finish more of these drawings, I think I'll start arranging them on our bedroom wall as a kind of inventory of memories. These drawings are a lot of fun and I hope to keep doing them, off and on, for a long time to come. I hope they accumulate into the hundreds.