First published: Spring 2000
Charles Benefiel's finished compositions range up to 40 by 60 inches and are rendered through a process of stippling, what he describes as 'dots', with rapidograph technical pens (typically .25 and .35 line weights) on Arches paper.
The drawings fall into two general categories: number drawings and pictorial drawings. There are no preliminary drawings and no lines to guide the composition. As Benefiel states: 'There was no need to stay in the lines, because there are no lines.' The only 'studies' for a final drawing are multiple efforts at perfecting details such as folds of cloth, crumpled metal, the contours of a heart or facial expressions.
In his representational drawings Benefiel works from the center outward, at first placing dots in a loose pattern and then filling in the final composition. In his drawings of rows of numbers (for example, 'Hygienic Toys 6') he stipples the characters from left to right as they would appear on a typed or printed page.
As he draws he counts the dots, an act that apparently takes place in sequences rather than as a continuous inventory. The sequences (counting to a certain number, then beginning anew) help him to focus his thoughts and 'chain' his mind to the drawing process.