Category Archives: 02 Calligraphy

Artist’s profile: Elisabeth Couloigner

Boredom inspires all sorts of creativity, and so it was that I came across this French artist while idly browsing pinterest boards. I saw a number of images which were heavy in calligraphic forms and gestural lines, so looked into her a little more. She describes her practice as an exploration of the material and composition of the space offered by the medium – as an emotional and suggestive language.

“Above all, and always, there is the look at the world around, the precise listening to perceptions that question physical reality and sensuous reality. Playing with ladders, identifying analogies, making matches. 

Observe the outside world, and learn about its inner world. Confront the two in the formal game of composition. Coexist. Separate and bind, establish passages, breaches, ascensional movements, lines of communication, areas of interaction. Gather reassemble fragments and unify them into a harmonious whole. Use imbalances to create new balances. Transpose, extract, sublimate. Then, give a concrete existence to perceptions, transpose them. Shaping optical relief, giving sensoriality to matter.”

Many of her works are pure explorations of composition through material textures, line and colours. These are a selection of pages from ongoing work in sketchbooks, “I’m Searching”.

As well as the rich painted backgrounds, she also has a few more open, more heavily calligraphic works, which I very much liked, and reminded me a little of mine…

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Weaving with ink

I’ve been continue to work on my calligraphic drawings, building on the ideas around expression through handwriting and gesture that I was exploring last year. I am enjoying working with a range of different inks and papers, looking for what combinations give the quality of line I want. I started with some busy sketchbook work which combined my different key elements – the calligraphic gesture, fluid movements, strong lines and layering – with different types of asemic writing and background colour.

The first sketches had some very interesting textures but were a little busy and overloaded in places. I worked with different types of cartridge paper and watercolour paper and although the watercolour paper gave a nicer colour range (left below), the rough texture of the paper detracts from the precision lines I was aiming for.

I took the key textures I liked and started to pair down and tighten up the drawing, focussing on getting a stronger expression of movement but keeping just a small colour palette for each one.

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I have been continuing to explore this series of gestures over the last week, with different open-ness or opacity to the drawings. I like the vibrancy and the movement which they capture, and this series doesn’t need the specific visible ‘writing’ of my earlier sketches – it is all about the gestures. I have also found both new brands of paper and ink which are giving very pleasing results – working towards a finished series of pieces which I can look to get properly mounted.

So far, this is my favourite finished piece:

 

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Artist’s profile: Yukimi Annand

I’ve been looking back at some of the calligraphers who inspire me to see what I can learn from their ways of working and use of materials. The first one who came to the top was Yukimi Annand. She works on a mixture of traditional calligraphy, textural art and books; her works are often clearly based on the shapes of the Roman hand and various mark making and textures from the natural world. Her current work is starting to look at eastern calligraphic techniques and abstract expressionism. I like best the pieces which have a stillness to them, yet still capture the vibrancy of her expressions. As I am still so focused on asemic writing, I’m not that bothered by the ones which you can read…

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I really like her book works, which combine a series of drawings into a beautifully bound narrative. This is definitely something I would like to work towards creating with some resolved work and/or a series of experiments.

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Yukimi also runs workshops regularly, sadly only in the US (as far as I can see, no visits to London). This extract came from a blog on one of her classes on exercises for the students. A great idea which I think I will do as a practice:

“Yukimi had us put random marks or text on black Arches cover stock using a small squeeze bottle filled with Golden white acrylic paint with fine metal tips. We used a 3” wide piece of balsa wood to make patterns using sumi ink on inexpensive hanshi rice paper. These were left to dry overnight and then sealed together with diluted Golden brand matte medium, which resulted in wonderful patterns and shades of gray. These  were turned into little 2”X2” masterpieces attached to cards.”

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Playing with asemics

I have been slowly working on another piece of map weaving, based on experiments I did last February. 12 months ago already! I started in the new year, and have been struggling to get motivated to get it finished – it is a meticulous and laborious process of cutting, twisting and twining. Right now I am not enjoying the process as much as I did last summer – it’s just not speaking to where I am right now. What I keep coming back to instead are two older drawing themes: 1) working with stream of consciousness poetry and asemic text and 2) the ideas of anachronism (feeling out of place). I start drawing to warm up the creative juices and don’t ever get around to doing the weaving.

One of the key things my MA study showed me is that I believe art must come from your self, not your head. I’m not going to spend time developing something ‘just because it might sell’. I don’t need to get money from my art (I am going back to work in an office). Instead, I want to freedom to express the things I want to in the way that I want to. At the moment, this is through pen and ink.

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My current fixation is back on playing with layering of fragments of poetry, using a range of different media to experiment with the textures and quality of the pigment.

I would like to turn these experiments into a series of different textures expressing different aspects of my poetry. Should I use of specific poem, or just the fragments which resonate at the time? I’ve never worked on properly resolving a drawing project before, so this will be an interesting adventure.

I’m also working on a sketchbook writings project – looking at creating a stream of consciousness piece every day (or at least most days….), playing with the expression of mood through the calligraphic form. Yesterday’s poem was a bit like the weather:

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It’s nice to be back at the drawing table.

An encounter with myself

I have spent much of the last year (since before the Unit 1 assessment) tackling the challenge of how to include my interest in working with text/words into my practice. I realise now that if I am to be realistic, the real core of my “practice” has always been the words – the stuff in my sketchbooks are so often poems or calligraphic drawings, the expressionism. This is after all even what my last few art quilts were about. I have perhaps been trying to overlay some ability to work in 3D or objects, without really comprehending what the foundations of my own work were.

So if we look a the picture the other way around…if the words are the core thing, how then can other material or 3d design help express my concept?

I have been looking at the construction of a place identity, trying to express a sort of visual poem as a manifest object. My plan for the installation is to make it a real, immersive space which overlays a physical form of personal experience combined with a seemingly endless stream of consciousness poetry – offering a manifestation of my personal conception of my sense of self.

The key material for my piece is then really the words themselves – using the materiality of the physical act of handwriting, the work becomes both a visual poem and calligraphic record.  Handwriting is a raw, immediate and visceral expression of your core identity – something which is original and unique to yourself.

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Storytelling with colour

After my last post, I had a nice chat with the lovely Bridget and tested my provisional show plan with her. Her reaction was good (apparently my ideas have much more me-ness in it). She noted the ethereality apparent within both the paper weaving samples and my latest calligraphic poems. [I don’t think I have talked about these on the blog yet – so as a quick summary, I have started looking at my ‘place identity’ using my asemic, consciousness poetry – calligraphy on top of monoprinting]

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So after meeting with Bridget, I’ve been making more weaving samples, experimenting with different ways of mark-making using the weave. I’d like to incorporate my story physically into the weave (as opposed as to just writing on top of it).

The latest samples:

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I love the effects with the colour pieces, and am less convinced by literally weaving in the words. Not sure this looks great and it is just too……well, too readable perhaps? I tried different warp dyeing experiment following on from this, which turned into a horrible mess. I then decided to follow this with baking a batch of chocolate muffins (after giving away 16 cakes yesterday), only for this to result in a horrible mess too and end up in the kitchen bin. Urg.

Some days go like this I suppose!

Something different then, and instead of making, I’m thinking about form instead. What object am I creating with all of these weaves? Something wistful and ethereal with fragments of words and poetry drifting into and out of focus at certain points? Oooh, I like the sound of that [blogging is a great way to empty the mind, instead of just talking to yourself]. I have been wondering about the forms I made in Unit 1 – looking back to pieces such as desire line from last September. Can I do basketry with pieces of weaving, would this be some sort of meta-weave?  This is conceptually very attractive.

Initial 3-fold and 5-fold paper maquettes and a quick material test with the samples I’ve got so far. I think I may need to find a form that is a little more open.

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Mapping identity

Mulling in the post-Christmas haze this week, and having found some quiet time at my drawing table I decided to do some more experiments with ink and water and my stream of consciousness poetry.

I am still looking to my MA project inspiration for the backdrop for the work (in context if not yet in process/material), so ideas around questioning identity and place, a sense of anachronism, loss and isolation. Overlaying different versions of ourselves again and again as each moment creates a new sense of self – infinitesimal changes which mean we are never the same again.

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