IMAGE: REVOLVING, 2013-2017 7.5 feet x 46.5 feet Pencil, colored pencil & acrylic on sheets of paper painted to look like graph paper.
REVOLVING is a fallen tree held together with bandages. It is coming back to life, cycling through the seasons of the year and then back to winter.
Mel Watkin: General Artists Statement:
In essence my work is about the process of drawing. I have been drawing on surfaces other than plain paper for over 20 years. I like materials that come with embedded history and automatic associations such as graph paper, old road maps, pillowcases, lace and tea towels.
Most of my recent drawings are based on the wide variety of trees that surround my old farm house in rural southern Illinois. Many of these drawings are small works in pencil on graph paper, but some, like "Revolving" are life-sized trees46.5 feet long or more. My drawings look realistic, but the images are actually compilations of two or three different species with their usual characteristics exaggerated, multiplied, or modified. My drawings are beautiful but also slightly menacing because, as recent events show, nature is alluring, but it can also be deadly. Not long ago our area lost over 3000 trees in a major storm with winds up to 106 mph.
Over the last few years, I have also created drawings on national and international maps. Many of these are commissions called "Visual Biographies". Between 2013 and 2015 I completed a set of altered Mississippi River Navigational Charts commissioned by Laumeier Sculpture Park in St. Louis and Longvue House in New Orleans. By the time I finish painting and drawing on these maps, the originals are still recognizable, but erosion, flooding, over grown plant life, flowering vines, and multiplying fungi have replaced humanity as the determining force on the land.