Tag Archives: drawing

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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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.

Re-visiting thread installations

Maiko said she felt the beauty of the map string may be being diluted through the construction of the weaving, turning the piece into just a representation of the landscape and not much more. So, let’s take the extreme case: what if I don’t do any weaving at all?

There could be something more subtle and more ‘pure’ perhaps in making an installation directly with the map strings. Universal stories of physical places transformed and twisted into long paths. Each string perhaps a different place which is part of my sense of self (those places I choose to be). Then I can overlay my personal stories onto them through poetry or some constructed visual language?

I went back through some of the inspirations on this type of installation which I had come across before in previous fibre art research, to see if any new conclusions could be drawn, and came across the work of Anne Lindberg. Her practice has been described as a drawing language (which is what immediately attracted me to her, back when I was doing a lot of my abstract drawings). She creates installations and 2D drawings that are both abstract and immersive acting as “a mirror of how [she] experiences the world”.

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Anne states that her “sculpture and drawings inhabit a non-verbal place resonant with such primal human conditions. Systemic and non-representational, these works are subtle, rhythmic, abstract, and immersive. I find beauty and disturbance through shifts in tool, layering and material to create passages of tone, density, speed, path and frequency within a system”.

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She describes her work as a kind of self-portraiture. “Within the quiet reserve and formal abstraction is a strong impulse to speak from a deep place within myself about that is private, vulnerable, fragile, and perceptive to the human condition. My work is a mirror of how I experience the world, and as I negotiate physicality, optics and ideas through drawing languages, my voice withholds, blurs, teases and veils. I frequently return to subtle distinctions between drawing as noun and verb as a long held focus in my studio practice. This blurred distinction drives my fascination with an expanded definition of drawing languages and the resurgence of drawing in contemporary art. My collective body of work is an iteration of this language.”

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Looking back over my work from the last two years (although so much of it has been confused), you can still see the predominance of my love for the line. This was where I started back with the dimensionality project, thread drawings and then moving onto my first experiments in basketry. Perhaps this is a natural place for me to end up? The question is however, will I have enough time to resolve a new idea – or is this new idea in fact just a resolution of everything which has come before?

 

Artist’s Profile: Stephen Talasnik

While doing a bit of searching on the nature of contemporary drawing practices, I came across the American sculptor Stephen Talasnik. Talasnik creates mesmerising work in both 3D form and 2D drawings, which seem to encapsulate a world within themselves. His works all have a strong sense of geometry (which is probably why they caught my attention) and the resulting structures appear familiar while being undefined and opaque.

I came across an interesting article about Talasnik, framed under the question: What is the relationship of drawing to sculpture? This is a question I’ve been harbouring for a while as I a still considering my practice as a drawing aesthetic as opposed to a sculptural one. I need to understand what this means to be able to explain and defend it in the future. On this point, the article suggests that: 

It might well be argued that sculpture, given its volumetric nature, is a more direct, or even honest, presentation of reality; drawing and painting, by contrast, are inevitably given over to a trick of the eye. Flatness suggests the recognition of two-dimensional art’s limited means in relation to the world that it takes as its cue; we can represent, to some extent, the visual complexities of what we see only if we agree to suspend our disbelief before the receding depths of what we have in front of us. Sculpture, on the other hand, has no such need to beguile us into believing what we know does not in fact exist. Its very actuality is a call to the reality we experience not only in the imagination but also in life…the art of drawing, always capable of conjuring not only what is seen in the world but also what is seen in the mind, has the freedom to extravagantly suppose. As for sculpture, it gives body to the essentially illusory nature of drawing; it puts forth, in actual terms, the imaginative compilation of drawn forms. It does what drawing cannot: it sees the form into physical reality.

Talasnik is quoted discussing how drawing is way of thinking, while sculpture provides the evidence of form:  “Drawing is a fundamental tool for invention. It is the thought process, while sculpture is the material realization. Sculpture is finite, and drawing is infinite…prior to my recent involvement in sculpture, my drawings invented the real—I was interested in designing fiction. Now, with the evolution of my sculpture, my drawings are liberated from exactitude and instead explore enigmatic structure.”  Although Talsnik’s drawings are metaphysical in nature, his process is such that makes clear the physicality of its making. Talasnik apparently shares the philosophy of Frank Lloyd Wright in believing “How something is made is as important as what it looks like”. His drawing process includes abrasion of the paper with power tools, wood-carving tools, steel file cleaners, leaving a surface embodying its creation. This in stark contrast to the ‘visionary imagination’ depicted on the page.

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Inspiration for Talasnik’s practice seems to sit somewhere between architecture and engineering, both disciplines required exacting measurement and accuracy. He is clear however, that is work is generated from his imagination while at the same time being connected with reality. Talasnik is “intrigued by architecture that is able to integrate the engineering process as a visible, organic part of design.” Like his drawings, his sculptures depend on open articulation of form, made from small pieces of wood which are reinforced with glue, he create open shapes whose “gracefulness stems in part from the transparency of structure”.

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The article concludes that Talasnik, for all his references to architecture and engineering, is as equally involved with the sublime.

He mediates his structures through the recognition of historical precedents that place him within a continuum of visionary artists whose imagination exceeded the ability of certain forms to be built…Talasnik is interested in approaching, even capturing, the sublime through form. His impulse to create is moderated through his extremely regulated technique; the combination of the two makes for art that is, and is not, of this world.

A couple more pictures:

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Reference: http://www.sculpture.org/documents/scmag02/julaug02/talasnik/tal.shtml

Raquel Rabinovich: River Library

The work of Raquel Rabinovich – an Argentinian artist based in the US – has been described as occupying “a radically organic territory of abstract art”. Her work is a mixture of sculpture, drawing and works on paper, using a visual language that evaluates the essence of meaning itself. Rabinovich explores what she calls “the dark” – “that which is concealed beneath the surface of objects, words, thoughts, and the world.”

Her statement from her website describes what drives her interest. “I have been fascinated for a very long time by that which is behind the appearance of things, objects, words, thoughts, and the world. My art has always been informed by an underlying fascination with the concealed aspects of reality, by that which we don’t see or seems to be invisible. Equally, I have been captivated by the process of how something which is concealed emerges into view. Working across mediums, this is the essence of my artwork, now, and for the last 50 years.”

One of her earliest works were a series of paintings looking at the ‘invisible’, The Dark Is Light Enough (1963). “When I say “invisible” I mean to look at something and see what’s behind it and behind it and behind it. Not to stay with the appearance of things but investigate and explore everything that is not visible or apparent seems to me to be a search that is very meaningful

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The most relevant of her pieces to my own current work is her ongoing work River Library, a series of hundreds of drawings made on paper with sediment from some of the Earth’s major rivers. “Rivers are repositories of history, the history of the planet, the history of people, the history of culture. Mud embodies the earth’s history, functioning like text to provide a trace, a memory of its existence…The layering of paper and mud onto pages parallels the formation of sediment in the depths of the rivers. Mud embodies the history of the Earth and humankind – it contains life, death, and layers of accumulation. Mud, like the alphabet of a language yet to be deciphered, like a yet unwritten history of nature and culture, functions like a text, providing a trace, a memory of our existence…These drawings are like pages of books from an infinite library.”

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The Gateless Gates painting series emphasises the search for signs of meaning, which may be partially concealed even in direct view. The concepts behind her work are directly intertwined with and inspired by the processes of nature. “Gateless gates is one of those paradoxes used in the teachings of Zen in order to help the students realize the nature of things.  It is not about a gate, but about the mind being transformed by confronting the paradox.  For me, making art is also a transformative confrontation.  It leads me to experience no gate or barrier, the work and I become one, there is no more inside and outside.  My process of working -layer upon layer of lines, marks, paint, glass or stones – seems to conceal what is not and reveal what it is, what I call ‘essence.’  To apprehend this essence, which is beyond thought and has no boundaries, the viewer too needs to go through a gateless gate”

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I am interested in the process she used for the River Library series, and the thought behind it meshes with my own ideas about marking the essence of place and knowledge through mark making.

*Quotes from artist website and an interesting interview here 

Visual research workshop take 2 part 2

The second part of Shane’s workshop was just as fun as the first part, but a little more reflective. We started by each discussing our evaluation of our first session and writing down the key words that kept coming up.

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We then had to try to capture an image relating to these words. Shane described it like creating a visual alphabet – I thought this was a fascinating exercise, and a challenge to not want to create one image and develop it, but to create a set of 15 or so smaller separate images. This was my final set – clearly showing some of the things which have been on my mind lately.

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After this, we were asked to cut some images out of a magazine which echoed some of our ‘visual alphabet’. We then needed to draw images to get from one to the other. Kind of like those old word play games but with pictures.

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The really fun part was then to combine the alphabet images with the image play ones and create the pages for a small graphic book. This got us thinking about more than just continuity of line – there was the symbols, colour tones and textures to add and play with as well.such a lovely idea and a simple was to express pure creativity without the hindrance of over thinking. This was my final set of pages at the end of the day. I may review after a few days before binding!

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