Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: Black (10/15/09)
TITLE: Every Line, Every Spot, Every Dot
By Deborah Engle
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I settle myself at the table and begin. With careful precision, I draw the pen back and forth, allowing the dark ink to flow. As my hand moves, the ebony fluid travels from nib to paper, transforming each individual shape until it becomes an essential part of the whole creation. The intricate design slowly begins to emerge. Each field I complete is a rich, glistening pool.
The intensity and depth of the color surprises me. I wonder at the appeal of my palette-black against white. It is a color combination I have always avoided, preferring instead the deep, rich, gem-tone hues of forest green, crimson red or sapphire blue. Not this time, though. Black against white is exactly right for this project.
I work cautiously, unsure of my ability and intimidated by this medium. When drawing with pen and ink, every line, every spot, every dot has to be right. No longer can I just rub away my mistakes. Once there, that is where they’ll stay.
Hour after hour I persevere. Curious, Kimba wants a look, but I usher her out of the room before she can leap onto the table. I continue, but soon, “writer’s” cramp convinces me I must stop. Flexing my hand, I see that my finger pads have flattened from my prolonged grip on the implement. Newly aware of a throbbing crick in my neck, I acknowledge it is time to quit for the day, and I push away from the drawing table.
The castors on my chair complain, as if commiserating with my abused body, and the squeals bring Kimba tiptoeing into the room. She twines around my legs, reminding me she hasn’t been fed.
At my first opportunity each day, I find myself back at the drawing table, working away. I am captivated by what is happening on this 11”x14” piece of Bristol board. Will my results justify such a great investment of time? Will my results be understood by others? It matters not. I am compelled to see it to completion. Day after day, little else is accomplished outside of my studio. Kimba resigns herself to a place along the top of the sofa, and I don’t even miss her visits.
I immerse myself in my project, focusing on each stroke. Every decision is vital, every choice is crucial to the ultimate quality of my piece. The unfinished drawing already displays a stunning crispness that pencil could never impart, and I realize that my aversion to working with pen and ink has been forever conquered.
After refilling my ink cartridge, I bleed the pen on a blotter until I am satisfied with the flow rate of the ink. Turning back to my work, I scrutinize the composition. Is it balanced? Is the contrast right? Are the shapes compatible? Choosing a starting point, I begin again. Hours later, my weary eyes demand relief from the unblinking gaze the work requires. I stop for the night-but it is morning. I have worked through the night.
The day finally comes when I lay aside my pen. I look with approval at what seems to be an explosion of unique geometric forms, bumping and overlapping and covering the sheet, all in black and white. It is like something I have never seen before, and it is fascinating. My spirit is released and I am content.
The late hour demands that I go to my bed. Tomorrow I will begin to set things right about the house. Kimba’s eyes glow from across the room and I promise myself she will get some attention soon.
Exhaustion overtakes me as I hit the bed, and I am gone to the world. I don’t hear the soft footsteps moving down the hall, nor do I realize someone has entered the studio and pounced upon the table. The sound of the falling inkbottle never reaches my ears. Only in the morning do I suspect anything, when I see Kimba on the window seat, intent on cleaning her paws. Her pristine white paws, have become black as night. In horror, I run to the studio, but I already know what I will find.
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