Dowsing Rod Series

Artist Statement


Two years ago while vacationing at the family farm, a friend noticed the dowsing rods lying on the porch and asked what they were. I explained that they were used to find water underground.  The dowsing process involves holding two metal rods in each hand and as you walk over the land the rods will move involuntarily if there is water below. I learned this technique from my father, who was taught by his father. I was intrigued to see if I could turn this process into a drawing or some sort of image.

Like a seismograph, I attached a string to one dowsing rod and then a pen to the end of the string. Moving across the land I let the pen flow over the sheet of paper recording the movements of the dowsing rod—pulling the drawings from the ground. Over the next six months, I made approximately fifteen thousand drawings with a dowsing rod.

Back in my studio with stacks of these dowsed drawings, I was intrigued on where I could take them.  The involuntary line the dowsing rod had made was foreign to the twenty years of drawings I had previously produced. One day in the studio I started reworking the dowsed drawings—strengthening some lines, leaving others letting my eye find its way in.

These drawings begged for large scale. I did not want to simply transfer these to a large canvas and paint them in, losing the spontaneity. A fellow artist suggested that I could simply enlarge them by making prints. This process then allowed me to work with the background without losing the quality of the original drawing.

These prints have now found a home between my painting and drawing practice, acting as a bridge between what had been two separate practices.

Artist Biography

Based in Calgary, Alberta, Curtis Cutshaw’s mediums have always including painting and drawing. In 2005 he developed a unique approach to drawing where he acts as the “medium” through which dowsing rods, held by the artist, move when water is found underground. With pens on paper held beneath them, several layers of lines are recorded, much like a seismograph. In his newest series, “Levels and Constructs” Cutshaw fractures and deconstructs images on individual birch wood tiles to create a sense of removal of purpose. Scratched, rubbed, marked, erased and distressed images hint at repurposing and the multiple pieces appear to have had a history, where in fact the artist creates them. They appear spontaneous and “found” but infact every detail is highly intentional. The result is a hybrid of object, drawing and collage. His education includes 1989 residency program Skowhegan School of Painting & Sculpture, Skowhegan, Maine, and 1988 Nova Scotia College of Art & Design, New York City Loft Program, graduating with a Diploma of Painting with Distinction in 1989 later receiving several awards in art. Kostuik Gallery has represented Cutshaw since 2000.


Watermark – $5,600 / $1,900
Vocal – $7,425 / $1,900
Close Call Version 2 – $5,550 / $4,450 / $1,900
North Branch – $5,200
Tower – $3,000
Spring – $4,600
Shoreline – $4,850
Mist – $3,500
Go – $7,300 / $1,900
Construct – $8,650 / $1,900
Hallow – $2,750
Laver – $8,100
The Fourth of February – $4,850 / $1,900
Barb – $6,450
State Version – $4,400
Bar Web – $6,325
Swipe – $2,600
Plain Ridge – $4,500
Full Version – $1,800
Staple Version 2 – $1,800
Tuesday – $1,850
Start – $1,800
To – $2,000
November – $1,800