the art: surreal + symbolic

...MORE Surreal Artwork by
Chris Eisenbraun.

  • Surreal art (2013): "My World Is Round."
  • Surreal ink sketch (2012): "Soliloquy."
  • Surreal pencil drawing (2012): "A Natural Pearl In My Careless Hand."
  • Surreal ink doodle (2012): "Tenuous Minor (A Flatted Third)."
  • Surreal pencil artwork (2011): "Just Passing Through."
  • Complex sketch (2010): "Whisper to the Thunder."
  • The Drawing Board Blog:
    "One" (+ "Two", & "Three.14159265)

    DRAWING STARTED: Aug. 18, 2013.

    Artist précis.

    COMPLETED: Sept. 15, 2013.
    FINAL NOTE: Sept. 23, 2013.

    Intro to: a symbolist pen & ink art series... Well. Series sounds so GRAND. These pen & inks are, actually, pretty simple (at least compared to my pencil drawings). LOL. Anyway. This whole artistic excursion into unexpected symbolism began as a simple Exercise In Giving. Ha. Irony rules. Two SMALL QUICK drawings were created for the FIVE by FIVE exhibition at the Tampa Museum of Art. Somewhere along the way I went off on a tangent (shocking!) ...and decided to further develop the idea initiated in the first two SMALL drawings...


  • Artist blog: the drawing starts here...

    (Aug. 18, 2013) Posted Oct. 01, 2013.

    Getting in on a technicality ..., through the back door...


    AN ARTISTIC FORAY INTO SYMBOLISM. It all started with an email from the Arts Council of Hillsborough County. A call for entries for the upcoming FIVE by FIVE exhibition at the Tampa Museum of Art. Donated art would be sold for $25 (each) and the money would be used for art scholarships, etc. The super dooper cool EXTRA was that the artwork would be hanging on the walls AT THE TAMPA MUSEUM. LOL. Ok. Getting in on a technicality ..., through the back door. Too funny. But... this is beginning to sound like an ex-cellent adventure ...and I am TRYING to find SOME time to get more involved in the local arts scene. Ok. Baby steps. Count me in. Created, donated artwork would be HUGE: a whopping 5 INCHES x 5 INCHES. Yowza. That's humongous. LOL. KNOWING how COMPLETELY thorough I can BE, seemed like a VERY good idea to block off a large part of the drawing paper KEEP MYSELF FROM OVER DOING IT. Time to so precious..... Anyway. An old idea/symbol used previously (self portrait, 1996) came to mind. Tracing my hand on a piece of paper. Why? Take a jump with me through the hoop of artistic logic. To DRAW myself is to interpret what I "think" I am seeing. To trace my hand is to put REALITY down on the paper. A symbolic reality..., THIS = ME. According to artistic logic, "I" would be hanging on the walls of the Tampa Museum. Too freakin' funny. This sounds like fun. Really.

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  • (Aug. 25, 2013) Posted Oct. 01, 2013.

    FIVE BY FIVE #1: the surreal pencil drawing....


    THE PLAN OF ATTACK. One of the to-be-donated-drawings would be a surreal pencil sketch, the other an abstract pen and ink work of art. These two little drawings would be symbolically representative of the TWO styles of Art currently under artistic exploration. Ok. Decisions starting to be made. Originally, the drawn hands were meant to be blank...just outlines. As for the rest of the to-be-penciled area... I looked through my entire photo box and couldn't find whatever it was that the subconscious was looking for. This is very similar to being hungry for something and not knowing what IT is... until you find IT. Eventually I found out that I was looking for an eyeball that would be interesting enough to be drawn BIG. Who knew? Anyway. I couldn't find what I was looking for, so in exasperation, I grabbed the smart phone and started taking photos of Gary's eyes. This was a tad inconvenient (for him). He was TRYING to watch some sporting thing at the time...but he's awesome... and I found the image my id wanted to draw. Somewhere along the way, my subconscious decided that the drawing NEEDED to have pencil letters inside the hand. I found this out by accident too. That's just how this process works. I don't ask questions...I just TRY to hear the prompts along the way. I had thrown a piece of paper into my photo box a long time ago. It was a short letter that was actually TYPED with a old school typewriter. There was SO MUCH character in that little scrap of paper that it caught my eye and I pulled it from the box earlier. No eye to be found, just a letter... Go figure. It was floating around my drawing table. I kept looking at it and picking it up...

    Artist note: I am sure that I spent waaay toooo much time on this drawing for it to be sold for $25. But that's ok because I really don't think that I am the ONLY participating artist OVERdoing it. In fact...I've seen some REALLY nice donated artwork (so you should find some GREAT bargains at the exhibition). SMALL art for a BIG cause. Real art. BIGtime. BTW: ...this is the FIRST drawing of the series (to be completed)...and, it is named "Two." Artistic logic.... ya just can't go back once you've gone this far down the road. LOL.

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  • (Aug. 31, 2013) Posted Oct. 01, 2013.

    WORDS were flying around the studio, ...


    A FEW PROBLEMS, LOTS OF CUSSING. The pen and ink "abstract" caused a few problems. I'll be direct: there was a LOT of cussing and TONS of frustration. The idea of the hands repeated, in a motion sort of way, was inspired by vague memories of THE IDEA of Marcel Duchamp's "Nude Descending a Staircase". Ok. Here's the real deal. Because I AM an extreme realist, creating an abstract piece of artwork.... is a way to Break My Mind Apart. To open a window in my imagination and let fresh artistic air come rolling in. A way to avoid getting stale / comfortable. It's not easy. You have to get a foot in the door somewhat before this kind of extreme transition can occur. And, guess what. I didn't take the time. No interim steps. No fancy footwork. I just JUMPED into abstractedness... from surREALISM. It didn't work. I was TOO tight. The FIRST abstract was discarded in the end. This is where the cussing got underway in a truly vehement fashion. Ugh. I had already spent an entire day creating the pencil sketch ("Two")...and now I had wasted a SECOND day drawing something that I was going to GIVE away. ....AND I REALLY ONLY HAVE THE WEEKENDS TO DRAW!!!! Man. This SUCKED SUCKED SUCKED. The WORDS were flying around the studio, ...the kitchen, the hallway, etc. Anyway. It was Saturday evening. I was SUPPOSED to start a big drawing Sunday. That was the plan. I was SO MAD. It was GO TIME. Soooo, I was up until 2 a.m. working on this drawing. It wasn't until the morning...when I put the two side-by-side that I realized that both drawings were eyes. This one was more like the creative eye, the third eye....

    *Artist note: the first abstract pen and ink drawing ("Two.5") was released into the world and given to a friend for her birthday. It is not officially a part of this series but it does have a place in the story....

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  • (Sept. 13, 2013) Posted Oct. 01, 2013.

    Small art for a BIG cause: Tampa Museum Of Art, Oct. 18.


    THE (ARTISTIC) JOURNEY CONTINUES.... Ok. The two five by five drawings to be donated were DONE. Mission accomplished. It was time to start on the BIG drawing, ...the one that I meant to keep :) The idea of the three works of art being tied together in such a strange way really works for me. Karma is INVOLVED. That sounds SO significant. LOL. Anyway. The drawings are freely given. The journey is EVERYTHING. AND..., somehow, while re-exploring the hand symbol ... the idea of playing with symbolism in this way... had REALLY gotten inside my head and I WANTED to do MORE...

    Artist note: The two drawings were mounted on foam board and donated at the Tampa Theatre building to the Artists Advisory Committee for the FIVE BY FIVE exhibition. If you are EVER in Tampa....AND you like the idea of checking out a beautiful old (1920s) theatre... it's worth the effort. Check the calendar, go see a show.... AND...if you are in Tampa, October 18, 2013.... 8-11 p.m., stop by the Tampa Museum Of Art. It should be an excellent evening, celebrating ALL of the Arts.

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  • (Sept. 02, 2013) Posted Oct. 01, 2013.

    Pushing a drawing further than just into the paper.


    MESSING WITH THE MIND. BE-ing surreal is in my bones....and as a surreal ARTist, I like the idea of pushing a drawing further than just into the paper. The hands / motion thang... hmmmmm... obligations wuz DONE... now I wanted to PLAY. The two five by fives had been so small, the space so cramped artistically speaking. That was good for THAT, but now....I needed some drawing elbow room. ORIGINALLY, the idea had been to put MANY many hands into play. However, the fourth set of hands (no matter HOW they were inserted) ....made it abundantly clear that tooooo many wuz TOOOOO confusing for what I wanted to do with this work of art. Soooo, I erased back to three and stopped there. As for the penciled letters in the inked hands... THAT thought was almost not EVEN picked up (while working on the previous drawing, "Three.14159265). I was SO skittish after WASTING all of that time on "Two.5" that I MICRO focused on GETTING DONE, and that made it harder to detour my head into the space were the THOUGHT of using pencil on a pen and ink could even come into play. Talk about putting on blinders. Sheesh. Luckily I wuz too tired (2 a.m.) to argue much and the id got through the trepidation without TOO much fuss. Too funny. However, at this stage of THIS drawing, my subconscious was NOT forthcoming on whether it was JUST the letters inside of the hand ...or ALL of the letters that were to be in pencil...

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  • (Sept. 08, 2013) Posted Oct. 01, 2013.

    There are blatant symbols running across the paper.


    THE SEEDS. THE SNAKE. The way the apple seeds are turning into a snake = AWESOME. Ultra cool. I am SO COGNISANT of the symbols AND the drawn lines. It's a weird feeling....thinking while drawing. That goes against EVERYTHING I have cultivated for the last couple of years. Argh. This is not where I meant to go, it is where I AM going. It's funny but this drawing is actually a hybrid of the two styles of art that have been under artistic exploration for this period. The two different art styles: surreal, symbolic pencil drawings and works of art dealing in mostly "abstract" patterns of pen and ink. THIS drawing actually... reminds me of the kind of artwork created upon receipt of my very first Rotring pen set (a BIG thanks to my high school art teacher, Mr. Martin). Those drawings tended to be a tad heavy-handed because of all the THINKING involved and the extremely purposeful use of symbols that occurred all the way across the paper. I was very young and did not go down that ARTsy path very far. Even then it was TOO HEAVY and tooo.....(whatever). BTW. Can you believe that it seems like what WAS the snake HEAD has turned into a UNICORN? Jeez. THIS is NOT an abstract. This is NOT what I meant to do. There are blatant symbols running across the paper. I am THINKING while I am DRAWING. I'm not sure about this. Right here, right now....I am swinging madly between the fascination caused by beautiful pen and ink lines and the FEAR that this is going to turn into a heavy-handed monstrosity. AFA%$#HGAFJDJASFJGRRRRRRR!!!!! As an is my job to go on. Not all experiments are successes. It is the doing, not the glory.... that matters. Jeez this is a mess.

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  • (Sept. 15, 2013) Posted Oct. 01, 2013.

    There is a DEFinite sexuality to the bottom of that apple.


    THE APPLE ...EXPOSED. I googled "Apple" images because I wanted to see what apple leaves MIGHT actually look like so I could at least be in the ballpark, apple leave-wise. I NEEDED to know how an apple hangs on a branch. How can I draw something that I can't SEE? The internet rocks baby. I don't even live near an apple farm but I "visited" many in the space of a few minutes. Anyway. Somehow...looking at so many different apples, led to cutting the apple and leaving it on the branch. At first the core was just going to be suggested though the overall drawn apple shape. However, the id decided differently... and what THAT led to is funny indeed (completely unnoticed until AFTER the fact). There is a DEFinite sexuality to the bottom of that apple. LOL. Too funny. Awesome-ly appropriate for this subject. It's a tad bit reassuring to know that UN-thinking is ALSO going on here. That's when the BEST stuff happens. As for the rest of the drawing? The symbols are making headway. The unicorn is gaining solidity and even has (scary thought) ....hearts down the neck. I am STILL going back and forth. One minute I am completely transfixed by the beauty of the drawn lines. The next? Embarrassed by what seems like such a heavy handed usage of symbols. Really. It has been over a DECADE since unicorns were included in ANY of my drawings. Yes, Virginia. Once upon a time, I drew unicorns, mermaids, fairies, and... but it's been a while and I am a different artist nowadays.. Mythology was my game back then. Hobbits and elves baby. BIGtime. That's where this artist's journey ...began, in fantasyland. Wow. This drawing is reallllllly taking me waaaaaay back. LOL.

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  • (Sept. 15, 2013) Posted Oct. 01, 2013.

    Peg McCreary and the ARTist's Hail Mary Pass....


    UN-ROLLING THE DICE. I never really understood what was going on in the bottom left-hand of the artwork but I'm learning to take some things on faith. I am just one small grasshopper at the feet of the human collective unconscious, trying to learn about symbols.... At first there were papers blowing around. These pages became parts of a dice. Then a pattern was added to the face because it really NEEDED something there. AND, I drew a darker line around the thinner lines on the "snake" (because that's what I ALWAYS DO). The thicker OUTline adds a luxurious contrast to the inner lines and emphasizes the negative space in a beautiful way that is very powerful (overall). Unfortunately that made the "snake" stand out a LOT. Not good. Between the "snake" and the dice...THAT IS WHERE IT ALL WENT TO SHIT MAN. Ugh. The entire rest of the day (Sunday) was spent TRYING to Save The Drawing. I am NOT exaggerating. It was a BIG UGLY MESS. Damnit. First, I darkened the unicorn's "mane". That didn't work. Then I expanded the mane with dots.... It helped, but... Then I threw what Peg McCreary called the "Artist's Hail Mary Pass." She told me once, that when an artist gets to the point that the artwork is SO SCREWED, then you have the freedom to do ANYTHING and throw the Hail Mary Pass. I never met Peg. She was an artist in New York. I just designed her website and we emailed occasionally. She passed one day. Walking out of her apartment. Slipped in the rain, hit her head and was gone. The end. Sigh. Sooo, I threw the pass and went crazy with the dots in the bottom left-hand corner. Eventually dropped respect for the leaves and went all over them too. It was DEFinitely helping but still wasn't there. NOW I had distinct zones of inking that needed to be pulled together. It was getting down to the bottom of the day. I could just take a photo and print out a zillion copies from the computer and try a million different solutions. But, I decided that I didn't want to play it safe, I wanted to finish it NOW. I was so tired of swinging back and forth, not being sure how I really felt about this particular work of art OR this re-visiting of an older styling. Soooo.... I went back in. I needed to marry the different styles together. They all met in the space around the "T".... Suddenly it came to me and my pen went to work. Believe me, I was holding my breath the whole way because I did NOT know if this would fix the drawing or be the final stroke that killed it. Here's the funny thing. I REALLY like that part of the drawing a LOT. Hail Mary Pass thrown. The last thing done was to add a last big thick line to the "snake". The line weaves in and out and finished off the "snake" feel to that part of the drawing. Done.

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  • (Sept. 23, 2013) Posted Oct. 01, 2013.

    An awkward dance when those two TRY to duet.


    MENTALLY EXHAUSTING...ART. There have been moments where I really LIKED this overly symbolic drawing with the rich, beautiful lines ....and times where I was CONVINCED that this was a really stupid thing to be working on. LOL. I do NOT like thinking about symbols while I am drawing them, but I have to admit that it was fun too >> Id + Ego played together... Consciously. An exhilar-austing process to host. AND, oh so heavy-handed because it is an AWKWARD dance when those two TRY to duet...publicly. But that's ok, ....HERE (on this drawing). THIS isn't my main gig (which is learning how to visually "speak" the subtle and compact dream language of symbolism as used by the human collective unconscious.....). Anyway. The lines are beautiful and THAT is what pen and ink is all about. The symbolism.... interesting enough if a bit simplistic. LOL. A lot of thoughts that have been rolling around in my head found their way out through my fingertips. Thoughts about "Good" and how destructive and overwhelming a force "love" can be when wielded like a bludgeon. Unicorns have sharp horns for a reason. Love and pity can be EXTREMELY destructive forces hiding under very comfortable, one-size-fits-all sorts of masks..... Good and bad are definitions that change according to where YOU are standing. No matter how embarrassing it was to leave the unicorn in the AND the hearts down the neck NEEDED to be there to balance out the seductive snake. I tend to agree with the Greeks of old who said that the middle....that is where you want to be. No extremes baby. Of course, there are also thoughts about "Evil" included in the drawing. The symbolism and dark beauty of the snake was one of the first things drawn. How seductive and sensual a desire can be, how bad an out of control appetite can be. A snake isn't evil, it is a symbol for appetite, for life, knowledge, etc. There is nothing wrong with enjoying life, having a hunger.... But...Evil. Hmmm... LOL. THIS IS EXACTLY WHY I DON'T DRAW THIS WAY. IT IS VERY SIMPLISTIC AND HEAVY-HANDED. ROFLMAO. Single-minded. Ugh. I prefer subtly, sophistication and complexity from my symbols. LOL. Oh well. It's a simplistic, symbolism drawing and it has pretty lines. So it's heavy-handed, the told tale is true. My eyes like it. Ok. There you go. We'll see how I feel ...once removed. Anyway.

    Here's a link to the official gallery page for the work.   

    BTW: I started a Symbolism dictionary years ago and haven't been able to work on it in AGES. Here's a link to one of the actual definitions in residence, coincidentally about snakes as symbols. This drawing, "One", is about choices.

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