I walk past this drawing 20 times a day, and each time I stop and look again.
The paper is made by the Arches paper mill in France, founded in 1492. The French pronunciation is “arsh” (although that’s a bit tricky conceptually for a German speaker). It is thick paper with a rough finish and deckle edges.
Depending on the pressure of her pencil on the paper, and depending on the pencil (Pentalic? Derwent? 6B? 8B?), the texture of the paper is more or less evident. Nowhere, however, does the graphite complete mask the paper’s qualities.
Besides those details, I’m left with these thoughts (for the moment):
1. the rough or even breathy textures remind me of Billie Holiday’s smoky voice (air over flesh)
2. they remind me of the moist air rasping across the vibrating reed and through the curves of John Coltrane’s tenor sax;
3. they remind me of the sandstone under my mountainbike tires in southern Utah.
4. The shifting play of light and dark reminds me of layers of clouds — wispy and feathery and striated and heavy and black and grey and misty and naturally structured;
5. and it reminds me of Julije Knifer’s black-and-white meanders;
6. and it reminds me of the complexities of a life of choices and accidents, of the patterns that appear if one is careful and focused and skillful and open to the moment.