Art as Memory Stored / by Jeannine Cook

It is always fascinating to leaf through a drawing book or a travel journal of sketches.  Immediately the sights and sounds associated with each work come back to one's mind, the magic carpet transporting one to deep shady woods, brilliantly sunlit docksides, wide marsh vistas...

Memories came flooding back for me today as I bade farewell to a silverpoint drawing, Come into my Garden! that I did a while ago.  It was purchased during a juried exhibition, "Art in the Low Country", at the Averitt Center for the Arts in Statesboro, Georgia.

This is a reasonably large work, 16.5 x 15" image, with a toned ground to evoke the wonderful colours of lichen. Highlights are in white gouache, in the way that the Renaissance masters emphasised light when they used tinted grounds for their metalpoint drawings.

Remembering the sultry day I went to find branches festooned with the delicate lichen suddenly made me feel hot again as I thought back to the beginnings of this drawing.  I knew I wanted to weave together aspects of late summer in coastal Georgia, when the wonderful golden orb-weaver spiders have woven their webs into such amazing feats of resilient engineering. The lichen seems similarly tough, with all its different varieties growing on live oak branches.  Their quiet existence, like that of the spider's, goes along mostly unnoticed by humans.  Somehow, silverpoint's fine lines seemed to match these late summer beauties, evolving as they do as the silver tarnishes slowly, and yet amazingly long-lived like them.

Silverpoint allows a close and detailed study of nature's complexities.  Executing such a drawing built into it memories that endure for me of a happy, fascinated late summer as I sat enthralled by the sophisticated designs of lichen and spider web.  Good memories to have!