When I start a drawing, I usually try not to think about what it’s going to look like when it’s done. If I start with a plan, the whole process inevitably turns frustrating or boring. I’d rather not to know what’s going to happen next. The quality of the finished product usually takes a hit, but that’s never mattered much. When I finish one, I usually just pop it in the back of my sketchbook and start the next one. My only end goal is to make something complex enough that you can get lost in it for a couple minutes.

It’s hard to describe your art and not simultaneously sound like an ass—the jump from passionate to pretentious is a pretty short one. For me, drawing is just a break from the real world; I can’t think about anything else while I’m doing it. In the past, I’ve said “It’s cheaper than therapy.” That used to be true, but the counseling center got rid of the cap on free appointments, so I need to think of something new.

“Falling Up”

This was my final for a drawing class I took last year—it’s a bunch of iconic architecture from different cultures and time periods erupting out of a volcano. There’s a deeper meaning there, but again, I thought it’d look good on a wall. I was looking at a lot of Escher for inspiration, so all of the structures are incomplete and flow into each other—there are something like twenty five different buildings hidden in the smoke. Shoutout to everyone on 3rd New Dorm South, Spring 2019, for allowing this piece to occupy a table in the study lounge for six weeks.

“No Birds”

Most of my drawings look like this—I take inspiration from Buddhist mandalas, but mine obviously don’t have much religious imagery. I make them with a compass and a ruler (thanks, ninth-grade geometry) and then come back in with black micron pens and detail them to oblivion. I made this one over the summer for some friends who needed art for their apartment. It looks decent from across the room but a lot more interesting from four inches away.

“Casa Tulip 8/6/19”

This one’s weird. It wasn’t a solo project—over the summer, some friends and I started making “communal art” every time we’d hang out. We’d keep pens and a sturdy piece of paper out on the table, and whoever wanted to add something was free to do so. Now, we do it every weekend. They usually end up filled with quotes and sketches, so we end up getting a big page of memories—ugly as it may be—that everyone has contributed to. 

Ben Caldwell ‘21 is an English Major from Chattanooga TN. He can be reached for comment at becaldwell@davidson.edu