I am feeling what an old student of mine called “nostaglia”. This is because, of course, I JUST FINISHED MY DRAWING BOOK, Dreams and Visions! I have been working on this slowly since October of 2013. The key word here is slowly. All of my drawing books take some time to finish, but, increasingly, they are taking longer and longer.

With my new drawing book, I want to try something… old. Natural History was my first hand bound book and I finished it up something like 14 or 15 years ago. It has a ton of pages, but I was flying through them. I think it was because I hadn’t really conceived of my drawing books as actual “artwork” at the time. It was somewhere towards the middle of that book that I realized I was making good drawings and that this could be more than a “sketchbook”, it could be an Artist’s Book. (If that doesn’t sound asinine and pretentious, then I don’t know the meaning of the words.) Whatever terminology you want to apply to the book, the fact is, I started poring over my books – sometimes taking years to finish one. I don’t want to do that with this new book. But I say that with every new book I start and… well, stuff happens.

So, on to the nostalgia part of this post. I want to give something of a brief overview of my books. I have no idea if that is of any interest to you, but it is to me, and since I am doing all the writing here, I’ll just indulge myself. Probably one or two of you will remember that I have already written about my drawing books in the past. That’s true, but I want to deal with each of the books in a little more individual detail.

Natural History is not the first book of drawings that I made, but it is my first hand bound book. About half way through I started to think of it as a body of related drawings. Not that that changed what I was doing, it just helped me to have a way of thinking about the book as I was making it.

This is the first image in the book. An introduction.

There is a lot of collage in this book along with a fair amount of animal parts. There are a couple of praying mantis legs in there if you take a good look!

Monsters and anatomy. I’m sure this is a surprise to you.

Bugs, bones and printmaking and even a little bit of pro to-gyotaku before I knew what that was! The tiny little fish is real. It’s been there for about 15 years, so I’m not too worried about it decomposing.

Fish, printmaking, and the internal anatomy of humilobites. At least I’m consistent. 

Again with the collage!

I have always understood my interest in the natural world. So that was a given for me as I started making this book. But I have always had an interest in the para-natural world as well. (I just made that word up, feel free to use it in your everyday life, but make sure you point people back to me. I’m getting in touch with the proper authorities to trademark it as I type this.) So the old category of “natural history” fit well for me. Way back in the olden days, back when things like cabinets of curiosities were in vogue, plants, animals, shells, oddities, “monsters”, creepy pickled fruits. Anything that caught the eye was a go and it all fell under the same quasi-category. And that’s where I found the work in this book.

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