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Ant Trails

Ant Trails

Graphite, charcoal, ink and pyrography

7 1/2 x 9 1/2 inch

Frame: 14 x 17inch

In order for me to describe my process, I need to describe my experience and surroundings while drawing and burning. For me writing and poetry work simultaneously while I create, writing notes and ideas that excite me about the experience. Let me give you my context.

I work so still

As if to disturb nothing

As Squirrels dance

And the Ants go marching up.

October 3, 2022

I imagine the story of a tree starting a very long time ago and in the sense of time we, humans, are but a leaf to a tree. How long does a tree live in comparison to us? When I sit and look at this tree that stands in my backyard and very much a part of my daily life and contemplation. I can imagine the journey of growth and seasonal changes that would affect its limbs, branches and leaves. And when I look closer, I can see the trails of small ants who have traveled up and back down the trunk of the tree. I question, How much time did it take and how many ants to affect the bark on this tree? What would that journey be like for the ant? Does our travels and journeys affect the environment that we occupy and to what extent are we aware of these effects?

In this drawing, I attempt to talk about the passage of time and the permanency of some things. How inhabitants or actions, even if they’re minute actions and perhaps meaningless at the time, really do have an effect on their environment. Minute like the ants journey climbing this tree or perhaps that rock we threw in the lake last summer.

I began this drawing by really focusing on the details that the ant would see on its journey. I tried to replicate the passage through the trunk of the tree allowing my pencil to bend and curve with the valleys and hills. I focused on the sensation of the graphite while it moves over the surface of the paper.

With pyrography, I mentioned before, the longer you linger in a spot the darker it will be. And through the process of drawing and creating details of this tree, I really considered how these dark spots do linger like a scar or healed wound. I find parallels in the mindfulness of drawing, the textures of our surroundings and perhaps the human body.

In comparison to the trunk, I consider the ephemeral quality of the leaves.

The fleeting leaves have similarities to the permanency of pyrography which fades with time and light. I consider that perhaps to these ants these leaves are less important in its journey. Even after countless times observing, I rarely found the ants on the leaves and wondered to what extent they really observed the nuances and textures of that surface compared to the trunk?

In drawing the leaves, I began by penciling in and then erasing the marks several times with significantly less detail then the trunk of the tree. Thinking of the experience of seeing these details in the peripheral sight and considering the transitory nature compared to the trunk. I realize that sometimes the leaves exist and supply so much nourishment but sometimes the leaves are not there to support the tree. I created sinuous lines in ink trying to convey this connection with the trunk. The leaves are not separate from the tree or each other.

When the ants first started their journey on the tree they barely left a mark but by the time I sat down to draw, the leaves were beginning to brown, darken and the disturbance that was endured through the actions of the ants was quite apparent. I applied pyrography to parts of the leaves, perhaps breaking down the paper to an extent similar to the breakdown that was occurring from the season change and disturbance of the ants.

Over time my pyrographic marks may fade or change to an unknown extent. Are they as transitory as the leaves and how will that change the appearance of the drawing as they fade out of existence.

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