Colony Ink Drawings From 2017 and 2018

macys bridge on south colony creek, ink on paper, 11x14in, 2017
macys bridge on south colony creek, ink on paper, 11x14in, 2017

These ink sketches were made over the summers of 2017 and 2018 at our family’s cabin near Westcliffe Colorado. These were all constructed basically the same way. I walked around until I saw something I liked. Then I would do a quick pencil sketch or even better just an ink sketch, work in some basic shapes and note some details, snap a picture (to jog memory later) and just about the time I got tired of sitting (or standing) in one place I would take the drawings to the studio.

Summer of 2017 was dry, Summer of 2018 was even drier, the wild flowers, grasses and weeds took on an aggressive, desperate exuberance. The clouds were iridescent in the afternoons and the cloudless mornings presented a sky that rang with a persistent clarity that took your breath away. If you’ve been to the Wet Mountain Valley you know what I mean.

My choice of subjects was probably not what you would expect in a picturesque Rocky Mountain valley. In fact most are pretty pedestrian. The things that caught my attention that summer were the hay fields stretching to the horizon, distant barns, curious cows, rain coming in, fence row perspectives, clouds like galleons loading up and scooting out over the plains, sun through the trees and the complex path of a creek.

I was making pictures, not creating mementos of dramatic landscape. I don’t like the mawkish sentimentality of rustic western scenes or to be patronized with photo realism (often painted from photos) unless it is a photo. If you want landscape drama you can come to Westcliffe and look around for yourself.

I used pencil and ink (dip pen and Sailor fountain pen with “Sailor Black Ink” and Staedtler pigment liner) on a 9x12in. LEUCHTTURM drawing pad or 12×16½in. smooth Holbein watercolor paper.

I made a book with 30 reproductions that you can get on Amazon Here:

These are eleven of 50 or so that I’ve made as an ongoing project.

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exalted objects: solitary and terrible

Riffing on Roland Barthes:

The object in view assumes an exalted place:  modern painting is a painting of the object. In it, Nature becomes a fragmented space, made of objects solitary and terrible because the links between them are only potential. Nobody chooses them for a privileged meaning, or a particular use, or some service; nobody imposes a hierarchy on them, nobody reduces them to the manifestation of a mental behavior, or of an intention, of some evidence of tenderness,

white fountain: image
white fountain, acrylic, pencil, ink on paper, 42×29.75in


“these were worked and worked again so they would look spontaneous”

This series developed over the past over two years. That was a time when I crossed the 65 year old threshold and wanted to revisit things I’ve been working on over the past 20 years or so. It’s not exactly a greatest hits compilation as this is all new work, but it pulls forward themes from several series that stay important to me always—abstract meditative beauty anchored by sacred geometry.

black fountain: image
black fountain, acrylic, pencil, ink on paper, 42×29.75in

Very directly acknowledging how the basis for much of my work was as an object for meditation, the WHITE FOUNTAIN, BLACK FOUNTAIN, and THESE ARE THE YEARS IVE SPENT, started this series and reached back to the “Fountain” paintings series from the late 90s. I was encouraged by a memory of Lynda Benglis at CalARTS to less critical self-expression (so these were worked and worked again so they would look spontaneous).

these are the years I've spent: image
these are the years I’ve spent, oil, gouache, gold leaf on paper 42x30in

From that “look of spontaneity” on the first three paintings, I started to work back into a sacred geometry that would include a look at what ties these images together. The PINK and GREEN FOUNTAINS demonstrate the set up that underlies all pieces in this series, the symmetry and the connections between objects in a direct manner with nothing hidden.

pink fountain
pink fountain, novacolor, oil, gouache, gold leaf, pencil, ink on paper, 42×29.75in
green fountain: image
green fountain, novacolor, oil, gold leaf, pencil, ink on paper, 42×29.75in


“my effort was more about that subtle balance of objects in our manifest world–a leaf, a patch of ground, an arrangement of buildings or the run of a meadow—”

The next several pieces were conceived as reactions to the ones that came before and as preludes to the ones that came after. In SHOTGUN SHAKTIPAT and GOING DOWN SMOKING I was diving a little deeper into the iconography of the Tantric painters. The purposes of my images are not too dissimilar from the Tantrics. But rather than painting scale and purpose proscribed by ritual and tradition, my effort was more about that subtle balance of objects in our manifest world–a leaf, a patch of ground, an arrangement of buildings or the run of a meadow—that I arrange in a way that may invoke a remembered practice.

shotgun shaktipat
shotgun shaktipat, novacolor, pencil, ink on paper, 42×29.75in
going down smoking
going down smoking, novacolor, pencil, silver leaf, gold leaf, ink on paper, 42×29.75in

My paintings provide an aura of calm not through an illustration of some imagined higher state, but create the object or combination of objects that could, on naked exposure, return that sort of experience.

SO LONG ED is homage to the great Ed Moses on the occasion of his multiple retrospective shows a year ago, recognizing his effortless facility. Ed can turn some simple stripes, a grid, and seemingly random marks into not only wonderful paintings but a jumping off point for endless variation.

so long ed: image
so long ed, novacolor, pencil, ink on paper, 42×29.75in

ONCE FOR BLOOD and ONCE FOR LOVE are straight appropriations of tantric painting objects that I arranged, like the originals dependent on the placement of opposites including of color, shape size, surface, edge, proximity, in a way that would invoke a memory or a contemplative experience. ARK was a natural continuation of the combination of objects I used in ONCE FOR LOVE, with the sacred geometry coming more to the forefront.

once for blood: image
once for blood, oil, novacolor, pencil on arches 400, 30x42in
once for love: image
once for love, acrylic, oil, gold leaf, pencil, ink on paper, 42×29.75in

Combining the Sri Yantra, which has become common in western imagery, together with the golden mean, made compelling and solid objects. See this Yantra in the layout of ARK and all the rest of the works in this series, especially the next three, with varying degrees of surface visibility.

ark: image
ark, novacolor, pencil, ink on paper, 42×29.75in

“Each object contains its opposite and is opposite and separate from all the other objects”

An intention developed to effect extravagance with the creation of these objects, to connect them to a net of objects all of equal regard, and further connect across the expanse of the picture with none left outside. Each object contains its opposite and is opposite and separate from all the other objects, yet becomes part of Indra’s Net. In ONCE FOR SPORT objects attached to Indra’s Net rotate around a silver Sri Yantra anchored in a space and divided by a golden mean.

it's so easy to slip; image
its so easy to slip ,novacolor, pencil, ink on paper, 42×29.75in
gone are the days (when we used to decide where we should go we just ride): image
gone are the days (when we used to decide where we should go we just ride) novacolor, pencil, ink on paper, 42x30in

I closed out this series with SO EASY TO SLIP, titled of course from Topanga’s iconic “Little Feat” Kibbee/George song. Painted in response and as a warning (mostly for me), that nothing will slip off the page.  Even though the Sri Yantra is centered almost half off the page it is still anchored by the golden mean and every object in the picture is anchored to every other through color, shape, size, line and angle.

“a detail may come back as a pathway to access another order”

One of the things you will determine from looking at these paintings is that the details are important. The proximity of one object to another, a fleck of paint, a seemingly random line, the interaction of color over small or large distances; details make up the objects that stay with your gaze. During a time of contemplation, a detail may come back as a pathway to access another order. That determines, in part at least, what I am doing with these paintings.

Bill Jehle, January 1, 2018

I put together a book with these 14 images and little description that you can buy here:

here is a slider of some of these images:

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tantric chakra chart

I made a pile of both drawings and paintings based on an abstract conception of human chakra system.

vajra drawing jpeg

I won’t go into what that is-if you don’t know give it a quick google. My drawings (I called them CANDLES) looked kind of like this on the right:

I have 30 more or less of these remaining in inventory. You can see a dozen or so elsewhere on my site. And also several versions of what I was calling the FOUNTAIN paintings.  (These also are available on my site) After making these versions for a couple of years I started to think of a way to enhance these in a format that would give me a three dimensional version and bring them closer to what I was contemplating as an illustration of the concept of INDRA’S NET. And to illustrate that “The Gods (artists) are extravagant with their creations.” The Chakra paintings and drawings, because they are extravagant, seemed like a good place to start.

I removed color and shape information from some of the drawings and paintings then opened them in AutoCAD. I added back shape and volume to each component and spun them around a central core. To me they needed to have the effect of looking like a single node on the net.  I made a *gif to show a little piece of these:

AutoCAD VAJRA no. 2 gif
AutoCAD VAJRA no. 2

As you may be able to tell from this little gif (be patient its a big file or right click and “open image in new tab”) that we are zooming into a 3D AutoCad rendering of one of my drawings. The black shapes on the flat plane are what the original drawing looks like before I puff it out to 3 dimensions. The original file has hundreds of layers and because it’s in AutoCAD of infinite size. If you have the free AutoCAD viewer on your box or at least ACAD2012 you can see this and rotate and zoom through it in real time. leave me a comment and I’ll send you a link to the original file.

Suite of Six Etchings at El Morro Editions

Suite of six etchings at El Morro Editions

image printerMaster printer Leslie Sutcliffe

In 2012 I was fortunate to have Master Printer Leslie Sutcliffe Cohn invite me to contribute to her 20/20 Project at El Moro Editions.

The 20/20 Project, begun in 2011, will include an etching by each of El Moro’s visiting artists until the year 2020. These prints will be produced in an edition of 40. Twenty suites of prints will be distributed to the participating artists; some of the suites will become part of the permanent collections of various institutions and the remainder will be available to the public. It is our hope that the 20/20 Project will foster a dialogue between the participating artists as well as an enhanced interest in and understanding of etching processes and their place in the digital age.

image etching pressEl Morro Editions Press

Here is a link to the Facebook for El Moro Editions:

The relationship between the printer and the artist is -essentially- a collaboration. Leslie is an amazing artist herself, teaches art history and printmaking at Cuesta College and is able to figure out what her artists are trying to do.  I started with a small zinc plate, 5-1/2 by 8-7/8in. We thought we should print on a grey paper like I used on my ink drawings. Leslie found a beautiful light grey Stonehenge and tore it to size.

On Little Buddha we used only hard ground and a little bit of drypoint and burnishing. I worked in a way that is similar to my small ink drawings (that you can read about elsewhere on this site).  Etching generally allows finer detail then drawing, gives a third dimension in the line and the plate gives a beautiful tone to the paper. After we got Little Buddha to BAT (“bon à tirer” or “good to print” in French).

littlebuddha-workingLittle Buddha in transition

image little buddhaLittle Buddha, etching, plate: 5-1/2 by 8-7/8in. sheet: 11-1/2 by 15in, gray Stonehenge, ed: 40+2

Little Buddha is included in El Moro Editions 20/20 Project:

image toolsTools

I was fortunate to have Leslie help me with a few of my own pieces.We decided on hard ground, drypoint, sugar lift and aquatint on to keep it simple for me.

Left and right are reversed when you print and black and white are reversed when you draw. But unlike a drawing the line has a beautiful soft texture and a dimension in the Z plane. If you love etching you know what I mean, the line makes a microscopic shadow that begs to be examined up close.

Leslie was very patient and let me start jamming on them. She inked and wiped each plate more than a dozen times before we were happy with the result and always had great suggestions on how to make interesting stuff happen and how to minimize unpleasant surprises

image workingArt is like work

Horse Bites Dog (HBD): we worked on three of these plates on my first visit. HBD was the first that we called it quits on. “Is it done? we asked,” Done enough! HBD, like the next two pieces, is titled by what emerged; the Guernica horse, distant clouds, view of Mount Fuji, crabs, cats and birds. by intention and accident in the production. As things appear we tried to help them along or mourn them when they get submerged, hopefully superseded by items that were more evocative. When you are working fast sometimes you have to work past your perception. Not worry about seeing it at the point so much but work in a way that allows accidents and intention to coexist.

IMAGE HORES BITES DOGHorse Bites Dog, plate: 11×14-3/4, sheet: 15×19-3/4in, etching on Stonehenge, ed: 10+2

Shetland Pony: strange animals, spaceships, medieval armor, giant beetles, a gryphon, distant mountains, floating clouds, dancing goats, sunset through the trees.

IMAGE SHETLAND PONYShetland Pony, plate: 11×14-3/4, sheet: 15×19-3/4in, etching on Stonehenge, ed: 10+2


Running Moon Man: Robots and clowns, nebulae, dragons, and moon creatures.

IMAGE MOON MANRunning Moon Man, plate: 11×14-3/4, sheet: 15×19-3/4in, etching on Stonehenge, ed: 10+2


A Great Fleet of Galleons Bound Our Way: Apologies to Richard Wilbur, the towering whipped cream in this could almost be mistaken for galleons under sail, or maybe a little dutch girl talking to a frog while the “galleons” break up some brutalist architecture.

image of etching tossing hayA Great Fleet of Galleons Bound Our Way, plate: 11×14-3/4, sheet: 15×19-3/4in, etching on Stonehenge, ed: 10+2


Across a Moiled Expanse of Tossing Hay:  More apologies to Wilbur but once I put in the moiled hay it just seemed to make sense.

IMAGE, TOSSING HAYAcross a Moiled Expanse of Tossing Hay, plate: 11×14-3/4, sheet: 15×19-3/4in, etching on Stonehenge, ed: 10+2


Constance Mallinson on the Meditation Drawings

meditation drawing 61

The graphic works of Bill Jehle have many art historical antecedents from the hybrid creatures of Hieronymous Bosch to Surrealism’s automatic writing and stream of consciousness imagery, German Expressionist caricatures, the ink drawings of Picasso, Jackson Pollock’s swirling cosmic seas, and more recently, the head comics of the psychedelic age. As with most contemporary art, the preoccupation is not on formal innovation and rule breaking but on a synthesis of such traditions and influences with personal experience and current events. Rather than a resignation from the task of the “shock of the new”, this embrace of often conflicting approaches and narratives, allows for an unprecedented freedom of expression and a hybridity with unlimited combinations. That sense of ever multiplying possibility, metamorphosis, and infinite connections characterizes Jehle’s constantly morphing and connecting shapes.  Owing perhaps to what one critic recently described as our “and/also” culture as opposed to an “either/or” culture , his is a world where boundaries are no longer secure and the basic rational structures and binary relationships relied on since the Enlightenment are undermined by a delirious mélange of visuals with no discernible order or hierarchies. Hewing to recent descriptions of “visual culture” in which fine art, illustration, and popular culture have equal influence on visuality, here stylized cartoon characters, beautifully rendered animal/human/plant forms merge seamlessly with architectonic and natural landscape features. Body orifices and genitalia cavort with evocations of death’s heads, clowns, and catastrophic weather. Devilishly playful and willfully asymmetrical, united primarily by fine draughtsmanship, and the rich tonalities resulting from varied line, “textured” cross hatchings and pointillistic detailing, they are as much involved with the viewer’s absorption into a pleasurable visual experience as they are with metaphors for the mind or suggestions that the Internet Age might be ensnaring us in a Piranesian web of nightmarish associations.


At the heart of these drawings is a Baroque emphasis on disorder in which linear time and geometric planning are eschewed in favor of more natural arrangements. A kind of frothy, bubbly organicism replaces classical structure, leaving the viewer slightly unmoored and with a Goya-esque fear that nature might overwhelm reason. Deep space and proximity are confounded with near- three dimensional modeled form dissolving into expanses of white paper and darkened “holes” doubling as flat inkspots. That spatial ambiguity is crucial to understanding the real importance of Jehle’s practice: it allows that entropy and ruin lie very close to generation and renewal. The drawings remind us that with the dissolution of a blind commitment to progress as promised by Modernism comes the release of energy, creativity and imagination.  In lieu of the utopian, contemporary existence seeks incompletion, always the non-fixed, recombinant, and ecologically interconnected, not a soon to be completed project. Ideas spiral around, form new synapses and relationships so that we might meditate on such questions concerning, for example, the human impact on or place in our environment.  From an initial inspection the pictures resemble topographical maps, but instead of charting terrain for easy travel, they map how dreams, poetry and artistic observation are necessary to negotiate past, present and future.

                                                                            -Constance Mallinson

Here is a little slider for of a few of these drawings.

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What Does Splattobscurro look like

This is what it looks like;

splatto detail 6

Notice how there are brushed lines, like the flicked on looking red boomerang shape and the baby blue circles. Notice how they have small flecks of obscurro from color that was applied by a rapidly moving brush that was expelling color as it moved. That is a characteristic of the of classic Splattobscurro. According to Aull, “Splattobscurro requires first brushed then splatto.” Not as some would have it a combination of the two or the other way around.

So according to Aull the technique requires a base of brushed figureation covered by splattered obscurration to be authentic.