Gregory Euclide’s ink drawings hover almost imperceptibly above the canvas on which he creates them.
The artist might choose to save what he’s drawn, but he’s also just as likely to swipe it away, distort it with sprays of water, or let inky rivulets trickle across his painstaking work as he tilts the drawing on its side.
That’s because Euclide’s canvas is a thin sheet of glass, a material which is inspiring him to create striking landscapes with nontraditional, thoroughly contemporary expression.
The challenge lies in the non-porous nature of the glass.
Paper or woven canvas, of course, will absorb any wet material the artist lays down. On glass, though, the ink forms a thin film, oddly disassociating the art from the surface beneath it. And instead of staying put, it can slide in unexpected ways.
The creative challenge for the artist begins with giving up some control, manipulating materials in new ways, and embracing some of the effects brought on by the combination of a slick surface, watery ink, and gravity.
For Euclide, an award-winning artist based near Minneapolis, a glass surface also lets him completely erase a work and start again — not as a way to correct mistakes, but as an embodiment of the notion that any landscape, like the land itself, is continually changing and evolving into new uses.
He’ll photograph a completed work to preserve it if he likes, then clean off the glass and begin again. Sometimes an area of dried ink will cling stubbornly to the glass, and he’ll let it stay as he begins the next piece, a reminder that everything has a history, and all landscapes are in a constant state of growth and decay.
For a 2012 exhibit in a Denver art gallery, Euclide created a mural-sized landscape for the opening, and left instructions for one square foot of the work to be wiped away each day of the exhibit. Reviewers called the process both “amazing” and “unsettling”, and that exactly the sort of thought-provoking connection Euclide wants his work to make.
Drawing on glass offers so many new challenges and unexpected results, Euclide says, that it’s propelled him into what he calls “a frenzy of exploration.
“It’s like getting new colors you never knew existed, and you can start creating things you never thought were possible.”