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Jim Dine: The Glyptotek Drawings Online Exhibition | Thaw Conservation Center

Jim Dine: Drawing with Light

Read more: Intro | Translucent vs. Opaque | Building up the Layers | Putting Light into the Drawings | Drawings to Printing Plates | Glossary | Sources

Putting light into the drawings iii

Figure 10
Figure 10:

Detail of adhered eraser crumbs in Glyptotek Drawing [2].

Figure 11
Figure 11:

Fine scratches from Dine's use of sandpaper can be seen in this detail of Glyptotek Drawing [33].

Figure 13
Figure 13:

Thin slivers of plastic removed to create highlights in Glyptotek Drawing [14] can be seen still partially attached to the support in this detail.

It was necessary for light to penetrate the multi-layered drawings in order to achieve highlights in the final prints. Dine devised innovative subtractive techniques to remove media, using erasers, sandpaper, knives, razor blades, and an intaglio plate scraper to create voids. Light, passing through these negative spaces, thus became Dine's drawing medium.

In all of the drawings, evidence remains of Dine's use of erasers to subtract layers of friable media, whether it is a subtle highlight or a large area of subtraction with remaining eraser crumbs visible (figure 10). The crumbs that remain on the drawings are adhered into place by subsequent layers of fixative and are reproduced in printed form as an abstract tonal pattern. A tonal pattern was not Dine's intention when he left these crumbs on the drawings but instead, as Dine mused, "[I] just left my tracks."iv

Once a layer of fixative was applied to the surface, the use of erasers became limited. To create highlights in areas of fixed friable media or in areas of liquid media, Dine used more aggressive means of subtraction. Sandpaper allowed Dine to create large areas of highlights, leaving behind fine scratches in the surface of the drawing as evidence of its use (figure 11). The use of a knife, razor blade, or scraper afforded Dine more precise linear scraping, which could be wider or thinner depending on the angle of the tool (figures 12).

Figure 12
Figure 12:

Linear scraping appears wider or thinner depending on the angle of the tool; the detail of Glyptotek Drawing [6] on the left shows wider scraping, while the detail of Glyptotek Drawing [36] on the right shows thinner scraping.

Subtracting media is not unique to this series, but rather is a constant for Dine in the creation of drawings. In the past Dine has described a drawing as "something you . . . carve . . . out of the paper rather than laying it on top."v This working method typically prescribes the use of thick resilient supports. In the Glyptotek Drawings, Dine's main criterion for supports was translucency, which limited their thickness. When using these subtractive techniques on paper supports, Dine worked more delicately to create shallow scrapings. The plastic supports, however, allowed Dine to be more aggressive in his scraping, either removing thin slivers of plastic from the surface or, in some drawings, cutting right through the supports (figure 13).

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Jim Dine: The Glyptotek Drawings exhibition page »

iii When asked about his subtractive techniques, Dine said that he used the intaglio plate scraper to "put light into the drawing". Conversation with Jim Dine at The Morgan Library & Museum on December 22, 2010. ivConversation with Jim Dine at The Morgan Library & Museum on December 22, 2010. v Quoted in Judith Brodie "A Manner of Speaking" in Judith Brodie and Jim Dine. Drawings of Jim Dine. Washington, DC: National Gallery of Art, 2004. p. 17.
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Background images: Photography by Todd Eberle unless otherwise noted. © 2006 Todd Eberle.