The Gallery at Plainsboro Library is currently showcasing work by a special education and American history teacher at West Windsor-Plainsboro High School North. David Olsen, who has been teaching for two decades, will be on hand to discuss his highly detailed pen and ink drawings and imaginative cartoons at a reception this Sunday, October 13, from 2 to 4 p.m.
Mr. Olsen is largely self-taught and has been drawing as far back as he can recall. He works primarily in graphite, colored pencil, pastels, and pen and ink. His work demonstrates a fascination with the lyrical elements of drama. He is drawn to faces that show life lived, old weather-beaten barns, and characters created from his own imagination.
Preferring to draw people and characters in action rather than in static pose, Mr. Olsen credits local artist and teacher Joe Gyurczak with helping him to understand the power of line and light. “I love exploring ways in which line can create depth,” he said. “Under Joe’s influence, my work is becoming looser. He’s a painter and I’ve watched him go to work and allow a painting to emerge. That’s something that I have been doing, experimenting with the free flow of line and form, working in an improvisational way, like jazz.”
It is a process that necessitates decision-making on the move, something that many artists might find daunting but that suits Mr. Olsen’s love of the graphic arts. Inspired by the likes of Gary Larsen and Robert Crumb, with whom he’s been compared, Mr. Olsen hopes one day to work on a graphic novel. Occasionally he will work from a photograph as when he saw the subject of the piece shown here, titled “Old Friends.”
“I saw this old guy at a festival. He was surrounded by musical instruments, an accordion, a harmonica, and he was the happiest person I ever saw. I took several shots of him and then went back to work on this image.”
The exhibition, which is not without whimsy, continues through October 23 in the Plainsboro Library at 9 Van Doren Street, Plainsboro. Hours are 10 a.m. to 8:30 p.m., Monday through Thursday, and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Friday through Sunday. For more information, call (609) 275-2897.