I have made these backgrounds for drawing work. I may need to obliterate more of the dark colours so that the drawing will have more ‘breathing space’. I was recently reading about Claude Heath’s drawings and work in a variety of materials.
“The issue was how I was to draw without being compromised by anything that I might have already known about these objects [..] I would shift the position of my object, and alter the choice of medium, so that I would not relapse into drawing too much of what I knew. By placing a piece of Blutac on the sheet, this would act as a starting point. First green, then red, and finally black biros were used, on sheets of paper big enough so that I would not easily run into the edges of the paper. [..] All of this had the effect of mixing chance and order in a way that allowed neither of them to dominate. Working in this way, I was able to arrive at places that I would not have been able to reach otherwise, and which were interesting to me visually. Sometimes it was also like looking at my own work as if it had been made by someone else.” C Heath
My paintings were completed quickly. I allowed myself only to dribble the red paint onto the boards, and gave myself less that 1 minute per board with the white paint. This was to prevent me being too rigid with the approach I was taking. These probably need another layer of paint which lightens the surface before I work on each as a drawing surface and explore the use of a range of materials to draw portraits and self portraits. I will, as demonstrated in the image below, be following the process of drawing without looking at the image. I completed the image below in only a few minutes and was immediately aware that in introducing additional layers and drawing for a longer period of time (SLOWING DOWN) that it would add to the exploration of the relationship between tactile and imagined information being converted into visual information.
EBD Self Portrait
Limited palette paintings on board (each 30cm x 30cm)
Whilst working on these paintings I was thinking about the reading I have been doing, having just read a series of essays by Paul Klee. ‘Creative Confessions’ was a really interesting read. I have been thinking about the value of individual marks: dots, lines, a drag of paint. In my tutorial with Stewart Geddes we discussed my preference for smaller works with greater intimacy in terms of applying materials. I was also conscious that I was painting in a similar way to the body painting I had been producing. But, after reading Klee’s writing I was particularly conscious of the relationship between different parts of the whole. I was pleased with the simplicity of these images, and the fact that they inadvertently have a look of bubbles and ripples in dark water. Interestingly the limited palette (or perhaps the actual colours selected) have an equally limited appeal based on the feedback I have had on these pieces!
Painting onto the photo-litho plates I had taken prints from in the previous week. I decided not to clean the ink off the plates and left them to dry. I then painted onto the surface, taking into consideration how much of the original plate I wanted to leave exposed. The transformative top layer adds another level of depth, pushing the print back and reconstructing it as something potentially natural and coming from the landscape. Exploring the development of these pieces is very pleasing. Where does one place a line or a dot? What difference does it make if there are only a few marks allowed, or if one works quickly. I have been considering these issues whilst reading about mark-making and drawing.
“If I trust my drawing hand, it is because in training it to serve me, I forced myself never to let it take precedence over my feelings.” Henri Matisse
Luxury is, highlighting books on drawing theory whilst drinking tea by the river in London.
Drawing Projects – an exploration of the language of drawing.
M Maslen & J Southern
“The main theme to emerge…is that there appear to be two modes of thinking, verbal and non-verbal, represented rather separately in left and right hemispheres, respectively, and that our education system, as well as science in general, tends to neglect the non-verbal form of intellect. What it comes down to is that modern society discriminates against the right hemisphere.”
Roger W Sperry
There is little more exciting than the prospect of visiting somewhere new. Although America was not new to me, New York was indeed a place I had yet to enjoy. And there I was, standing in Manhattan, exploring the high rise architecture, learning about Rockerfeller, travelling to extreme heights, and investigating the Historical and Artistic worlds of this fine city. So much to excite me visually. So rich an area in shapes and forms and beautiful spaces. High rise, of course, but shining and glistening in the sunshine, layer upon layer of built up space.
But all I could do in my sketch book was write about my sadness in regard to uneven distribution of wealth. That there could be so many homeless people in an area so clearly financially prosperous. I know this is similar to any large city, and in fact it was punctuated for me even more by my travels a decade ago in Cairo. However, the extremes of poverty and wealth are so finely tuned in New York; so apparent and distressing. I found myself writing notes. Sometimes they became poems, sometimes scribbles. Frustrated conflict which argued that I must, must be conscious of this, and actively find ways to respond visually; to do something other than just to make another note to self. Equally I felt conflicted that I represented the rich and powerful. I was there travelling. I had the money for such luxuries and was living, eating, exploring without excessive consideration. How DARE I waste this experience by not enjoying every moment?
Thankfully I found an exhibition (amongst the 23 we visited during the week) in New York which helped me to shape these conflicting feelings into something concrete. ‘De-Formations’ in Bruce Silverstein’s gallery in the Chelsea area of New York resonated extremely well with where my thoughts were at the time we visited.
In 1933 André Kertész photographed two nude models in a carnival mirror as an assignment for the risqué publication Le Sourire. For a magazine often illustrated with erotic drawings, Kertész’s warped images of the female body slide away from the salacious and toward the unsettling.
The Distortions (originally titled Deformations by the artist), were made famous by the 1976 Knopf publication with an accompanying essay by Hilton Kramer. Kramer indentified Kertész’s radical manipulation of the human figure as more akin to work by Henry Moore, Picasso, Dali and Matisse than to images by photographers of Kertész’s generation. He writes, “The Distortions anticipate still further changes that do not show up in sculpture or painting until Giacometti’s work of the early forties, de Kooning’s Women of the late forties and early fifties, and Dubuffet’s Corps de Dames of 1950. It is in the company of such work that Kertész’s fecund photographic inventions will eventually find their proper place.
The distorted body parts, squashed against glass, sculptures of something slightly resembling a body, slumped, the images of reflections, knotted and twisted, these spoke to me. They said something; about how one person’s reality is utterly different to another’s. That without contemplating too deeply, the reality of my life and existence is profoundly removed from that of any other person, highlighted more effectively in the extremes. Rich vs poor. Tall vs short etc. The art work in this exhibition allowed my mind to explore the potential of working with distortion to express my own angst and distress at the sense of being part of a section of society that simply has too much. And I felt that I could express this more confidently in work which speaks about the unknown – that tackles the ‘space between’, the negative areas of the drawing, the unusual, unnatural and intentionally inaccurate. I was hugely inspired by the works in this exhibition, by artists such as Ana Mendieta, Bourgeois, Rona Pondick, Mapplethorpe, Arp, Carlsen, Gormley, Moore and David Smith.
I felt comfortable with the improbability and confusion; it resonated with how I felt.
Looking through a pile of books and thinking about the Exploratory Project; painting and drawing in an expressive way. Absolutely loving the imagery and the possibilities.
Keeping on the challenge or exploring with a limited palette I am sticking to imagery which I have already produced on the course, but which I have converted into black and white. I took some time changing the exposure of the original imagery in Photoshop, strengthening individual components/brush marks. I wanted these printed larger than the boards they were going on so that I could wrap the images around them. I am quite keen on these as objects – like wild ink drawings – and have yet to decide whether I will take them much further or create a second set of blocks which will be painted onto as well.
The abstraction of what was much more obvious imagery appeals. The boards each come from a different drawing or painting and they retain much of the style and treatment (brush mark, dynamism etc) whilst having been cropped and converted to this minimal palette.
I am enjoying this project and can see that it has much potential.