Wednesday, January 9, 2013

New Artwork: "The Watchers"

Mark has created five complete images along a single theme, all in less than a week--highly unusual behavior for a guy who usually does "one-offs." Above is a quick view of one of the drawings.

For a look at the whole series and to read the story of how they came about, read on!

While Ping has been experiencing some interesting energy movement, I wonder if some of it has rubbed off on me. Could be. In any case, I've done something in the last week that I've rarely, if ever, done before: create a series of images along a single theme, in the same medium, one after the other, without a break.

I've done plenty of fantasy art, lots of dragons, fairies, wizards and monsters, but they've never been specifically along a theme. Most of the images I draw and paint are "one-offs." The closest I've come to a "series" is the "Stairway to Heaven" paintings--which are easy because so many trails around here have stairs! But I don't usually bang out five in a row of anything. Here, I have.

It all started with this image, graphite and white charcoal on colored paper:
For some reason, a picture of a sculpture had caught my interest. I based this image on that sculpture, but you won't find this piece anywhere. Most of it was from my imagination, including the landscape in the background. If you look closely, you can see the hint of some sort of structure on the back cliffs at right.

Immediately after this was done, I started another one, using a different reference image--again with significant modifications. The background is modeled after a section of the trail to Dan Feng Shan, near our house.
No sooner had this one been completed than I started on the next one, its background based on another hike we took near Jiantan:
Now, for the first time, you see someone on the trail, just a silhouette. This is one of the most complex drawings I'd yet done. Again, it was on to the next one, right away, also based on the trails up in the Dan Feng Shan/Battleship Rock area:
A small silhouette is visible in that one, too, off to the right again. Within hours, I started drawing another one, this one based on a smoother section of one of the precarious trails in TianQiaoGou in Liaoning Province, China:

As I started on the last one, I wondered what I should call these images. Clearly, they meant something to me. When I looked at these weathered sculptures by the trail, I got a sense of peace, strength, and calm. The first name that occurred to me was "Watchers." That's what they seemed to be doing: watching the path, guarding the way without ever becoming directly involved. Wherever they were found, all was well.

I asked Ping what she thought about the name. "But if they're watching, why are their eyes closed?" I asked. That's what had been puzzling me.

"They're watching with the Third Eye," she said.

That rang true.

So here are the first five in what I expect to be a continuing series called "The Watchers." I have two more images already in the conceptual stages. I'll post them when they're done. I don't know if I'll maintain the same pace, though: 5 complete drawings at 11.7x8.2"/30x21cm in about 6 days is pretty intense.

In the meantime, these are always visible on the Mark Ivan Cole - Artist page on Facebook,  or at

Let me know your thoughts! I'd be interested in any feedback you have. Thanks! --Mark

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