Diane Cable


1987 Sketch Book, hardbound, black, 8.5" x 10.5"

Overall, this sketch book represents a year of much transition. 1987 would be my last year of teaching in the art department until I returned to Asheville in 2003.

This, too, would be the last year I would accompany the University of Georgia Studies Abroad Program as an employee; but I returned several times to Italy on my own in later years.

In 1987, I moved to Richmond, Virginia, to begin graduate studies toward and MFA in Painting and Printmaking at Virginia Commonwealth University.

Drawings of note: Page 8

 The beginning of the summer's program was often one of loneliness and frustration. Things began to be repeated in a bothersome manner: the same innocent, ignorant students; no one knowing where to go or what to do; my patience wore thin that summer. For some reason, the American students that summer were especially "renegade." Regardless of how much Professor Kehoe encouraged a good American image, the students of this summer could seemingly see no reasons to heed this advice.

We began the summer in London: herewith is a drawing of the hotel room I was assigned. It is a lonely enough view in and of itself.

One very good thing that happened this summer was that I met and became friends with Mary Ann; she had just finished her MFA in sculpture at the University of Georgia (she was to be one of my watercolor students); we both suffered from a similar kind of alienation from the rest of the group. Mary Ann complained throughout the summer of not receiving mail from friends and family. When she left at the end of the summer to attend Trinity College in Dublin, I swore to her that I could always be relied upon to respond to any letter she would send to me. We have been writing (pen to paper) letters since the Fall of 1987. From that year, I have considered her a dear and close friend. She lives in Kilkenny with her husband, Paul (both she and Paul are artists), and two sons, John and Matthew.

Page 12: This is a sketch of ever a type of pine seen all over Italy; a type of loblolly, I think—it became known as the Italian umbrella tree.

Pages 21 and 22: The summer of 1987 featured an exhibition of Henry Moore's work at the Pallazio Vecchio in Firenze. There was a wonderful collection of both Moore's drawings and small sculpture. For one of the first times I could remember, I preferred making a sketch of one of Moore's sculptures, "Mother and Child" rather than finding his sculpture was something to "bump into" while I was viewing his drawings. This was an exquisite piece, no more than two and half feet in height. What a luxury to have the time to really stand and draw a piece of art work. I had never seen this piece before, in person or in photo. It was stunning. And I was happy to have the opportunity to study it and put it in my sketch book for that summer.

Page 29: Another self-portrait of sorts; lost in the landscape of my own mind

Page 32: At the end of the summer, we all had to make our way back to London; to Gatwick airport. I had to find a bed and breakfast for one night. I had made no reservations; thus, the cab driver from the Gatwick Underground station was my valiant knight in that we went to several places around Gatwick but all were booked. He kept trying until we found a bed and breakfast that had one room available. I did not have enough money to tip him properly,

This is the final view, then, I had of my small room in a bed and breakfast; my last night in London and then on to newer frontiers. Just as I had made the sketch of my first night in London, I thought it only fitting that I should make this entry—my last night in London, and in Europe, until 1994.

Pages 33 - 37: As was my luck that day, all flights from Gatwick were delayed indefinitely. The airport became a place quite crowded with waiting passengers. One had to search diligently for a place to sit. Many chose the floor on which to lie for the endurance of their wait. I drew several people within these pages, waiting patiently for the announcement of their next flight out. And, waiting for my own!

Page 39: This is how I imagined a sleeping person at Gatwick: sleeping, seeing, at a distance, that person who waited for him at the end of his journey.

Page 46,47,49, 63, 64, 66, 67, 68, 69: These pages represent the search for my identity as far as a style was concerned. Upon entering graduate school at Virginia Commonwealth, I needed to illustrate the pursuit of a particular idea; MY idea, that I would begin and follow through as my studio graduate study.

The idea lay roughly along these lines: how do we know one thing without knowing its opposite? A good friend of mine once said that because we are built as "bilateral" beings, having a left side and a right side, human beings would forever be searching and arguing about ideas—just what is the truth? My friend said this because of the phrase "well, on the one hand you have this; but, on the other hand, you have this...".

Although my idea was not to present the extremes of arguments, I did like the idea of juxtaposition. How could one thing be known without its juxtaposition to another? Thus, I began my venture through the visually absurd—a sort of DADA/Duchamp, surrealistic, Mickey Mouse-Donald Duck approach to the sacred visual plane. Page 49 suggests the direction. Having been made very familiar with the Tuscan landscape over the past several years and Renaissance master's drawings of landscapes, I decided to have that as my base—treating it as if it were a Renaissance sketch. But these were paintings; about 4 feet by 3 feet, and, regardless that the idea is represented as a sketch in the sketchbook, the final product was much more formal and visually challenging due to the size.

With reference here to my interest and ideas stimulated by Ma Lin and Richard Serra—their works were monumental juxtapositions to the landscape into which they were set. I wanted to have a completely unrelated subject matter painted on top of another painting. However, in order to make it work for me, I knew I needed to arranged my "juxtaposed" images in such a manner that they would be interacting with the underlying painting.

I used dry brush in doing the Tuscan landscape, using oil-based sienna. After a day or two of drying, I proceeded to paint floating popsicles, high in the air, one behind the other, making their way across the landscape at some undetermined altitude; colorful images of toys (Olive Oyl in an airplane suspended as if by strings from the edge of the canvas) juxtaposed to the brown/red sienna coloring of the landscape "below." I was looking to "violate" the visual plane with images that were rather absurd.

Pages 75 - 80: These pages represent a visit with the graduate students to the Philadelphia Museum of Art, especially for the purpose of seeing the special retrospective exhibition of Anselm Keifer's work. What a great treat that was for me! In various ways, I saw that Keifer thought nothing of putting together a lead grey seascape with a set of wings floating above it; thus my direction of the juxtaposition of the unrelated was validated; a burned, leadened gray landscape wherein was placed in the center a large open book. His pieces were astonishingly large. I was amazed to see photos of his means of production of these pieces. He required the space of a factory.

We also visited the Barnes Collection in Philadelphia; an extra treat for me to see so many Cezannes in one place although I didn't particularly like the same amount of Renoir's. The galleries alternated the artists' work throughout: for instance, a Cezanne, a Renoir, a Cezanne, a Renoir, etc. I found myself breezily passing the Renoirs in order to get to the next Cezanne. The graduate professors and students were all back on the bus thirty minutes early—all ready for departure back to Richmond. One of the faculty had to come in and drag me out of that wonderful place so that we could all leave.

Additional entries in this sketchbook are incidental photos—I found myself adding special photos and postcards to my sketch books. Any image by Giovanni Bellini, or of any of the Venetian Bellinis; these I considered very worthwhile to have and "rediscover" in my sketch books.

Dianne Cable, August 1, 2011