In my charcoal drawings gems become eyes, apertures and mirrors, portals, reflecting pools and pieces of space. I am interested in how these small, shiny and translucent objects writ large and heroic in my drawings reveal on a grand scale what mesmerizes us on an intimate scale. Imbued with layers of history, magic, wealth, mysticism, romance and cliché, the gems I am rendering reveal glints of these qualities by their closer examination and magnification. In their portraiture they transcend what they are to become abstractions and kaleidoscopes; opaque reflections and lenses peeing into secret places.
Shiny objects that twinkle and reflect hold much more power over us then we would generally admit. The initial reason we were drawn to gems is because they mimic our eyes. Eyes are the most reflective parts of our bodies and are where we connect with others emotionally; they are “the windows of the soul”. Gems like eyes reflect and can be looked into, past the surface reflections into the interior of the organ or structure. Both can be tiny windows and mirrors simultaneously. Some of my drawings appear to be large renderings of translucent stones revealing their inner structure. But when approached reveal real landscapes within. Like looking glasses, gazing and crystal balls or eyes when peered into the gems I draw reveal something new to us. These shiny precious contradictions that play with our most innate needs to connect and examine are what fascinate me and one of the qualities that encourages me to draw them.
Conversely opaque stones such as onyx cabochons when drawn large become black mirrors or pools or outer space that invite us in, not to explore but to disappear. Rendered in charcoal the black and white enhances the highlights and reflections in the stones. The tiny reflections become celestial and the silhouettes become holes. They are like entrances to the underworld or Mayan cenotes. Like Narcissus fascinated by his own reflection in the pool of water he falls into it believing it is another him and drowns. Drawings, like reflections are illusions, flat planes that can mimic space. Charcoal a dry, burnt material appears to be wet, liquid and shiny in the drawings. A contradiction similar to a window you can look into but not pass through or a looking glass that can only reveal but that you cannot enter.
What seduces us about precious stones, caused wars and launched thousands of ad campaigns worth millions of dollars is what I enjoy exploring in my work. Eyes, water, space, mirrors, looking glasses still haunt us into the 21st century and the digital age-and gem cutters helped us get here. The technology of cutting a stone or a lens was once firmly the realm of the jeweler and craftsman before we discovered how we could utilize it for science. I am intrigued that the skills that helped us discover bacteria or the heliocentric solar system were also the skills used to polish a precious stone. These multiple of attributes and layers of history keep me captivated, looking and drawing.