Sunday, May 24, 2009

Five Years of All Over Coffee

Five Years of All Over Coffee
Main Library, Lower Level, Jewett Gallery

I've been admiring the well-observed & detailed All Over Coffee drawings since they first started appearing in the Chronicle. I went to this exhibit hoping to get an insight into how Paul Madonna creates them. According to the video in the exhibit, he amazingly does no preliminary sketches or pencil under-drawings. It looks like he simply sits in front of the subject & out comes a perfect drawing. & the only images on display are beautiful, confidently penned, finished drawings. Still, he must be using photographs somewhere along the line, as one of the items is a photo of an actual scene. But how does he know where to start the drawing? How does he figure out the scale? How does he deal with mistakes? How long does it take? I found myself just as frustrated as ever trying to understand his process.

Oddly, it's the captions that Paul Madonna spends a lot of time collating, contemplating & reworking. His notebooks are filled largely with his attempts at writing. Sadly, this may be a case of me totally missing the point of his work. When I first started reading All Over Coffee, I quickly discovered that I couldn't make sense of the captions, so now I ignore them & just enjoy the pictures. I didn't even get the name of the comic until I heard Mr. Madonna in the video explain that everything nowadays can take place over a cup of coffee.

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