Saturday, 5 May 2012

The best laid plans of mice and men...

When I set this blog up I was all inspired by the idea of setting myself up to have to get back into that mindset where it's just normal, and the day isn't complete without at least one scribble somewhere to mark it. Well, the urge was certainly there a number of times - usually at the most inappropriate moments - where once I might have scribbled away while a teacher prepped us for a class, I find I am less comfortable with scribbling during a staff meeting, even if I do have an intriguing subject in front of me!

This morning I have been wrestling with writer's block on my weekly freelance assignment (a not infrequent issue) so, given a number of alternative activities I might have distracted myself with - a load of washing, the dishes from last night, clearing out the cupboard that's trying to dump its contents every time the door is opened, or even go for a walk (it's suddenly SO cold outside...) - I went and hauled the new little visual journal out of my back pack and sat down and drew some of the things in the fruit bowl on the table.

I remember, years ago before I went to art school when I was painting and drawing on my own at home, I used to do a still life about every six months or so. I was trying to push myself to see differently, and try new things but it was a little difficult sometimes to feel as if I was getting anywhere. So, I decided that I'd set up a formal still life every six months or so and paint it, so that I could use a classical genre as a sort of a marker. I was mostly painting at the time rather than drawing, and I do remember being quite surprised at the changes I noted over the first few. So, this morning, facing something of a drawing block in addition to the writing block (!), I headed in a similar direction - but without actually setting it up. Our fruit bowl is a little lacking in plenty at the moment...but there are always onions and lemons!

I did find a coloured conte and charcoal still life from a few years back - obviously another shot at getting myself motivated again. It's the second drawing of the same plate of fruit. I remember doing the first one, also conte and charcoal, and it's a more conventionally accurate representation. And then, the shapes got to me, so with this second one I just played. Of the two, I like it better.

I need to play some more. Basically, I need to just draw more - and more, and more... And play as well!

Saturday, 28 April 2012

Sometimes we need reminders...

My youngest son recently came from interstate to stay with us for a holiday. He came - good child that he is - bearing gifts. Among those he had for me was the result of one of those quite intentional hinting conversations on his part, the purpose of which I quite missed at the time; an A5, slim, hardcover sketch book.

It took me back to my art school days where I had, as many of us do, a singularly inspirational and gifted teacher. I had a few of them, actually, but this man, with whom I battled throughout most of my six years at the school, stays with me in memory and it's him I imagine peering over my shoulder these days when I draw. He died very suddenly towards the end of my time at the school, just before the end of my last level of life drawing. One of his challenges about drawing was - I can hear him saying this, and berating us when we'd failed to meet it - that we must draw EVERY day. Something. Didn't matter what. But, open the book and draw something - even if it was just messing around with some new chalks or pencils to see what they'd do. Open the book and put something on the page for the day.

Needless to say - despite the fact that I and my fellow students failed to do this on a fairly regular basis - this was much easier to accomplish while I was at art school and my primary preoccupation was with making art of one form or another. If all else failed, doodling in my journals during lectures on subjects that didn't interest me overly meant there was something on the page for that day. Also, Bruce was given to lengthy preambles to our classes (much like this post), where we'd sit around for anything up to half an hour discussing what was on the agenda for that day. I used to sit and draw everyone while that was going on - he caught me a few times, but it was the one activity that detracted from my ability to pay attention to what he was saying that he'd forgive me for...

The gift of a sketch book that will, with some rearrangement, fit into my small hand bag, along with a selection of pens and clutch pencils - the latter being one of Bruce's favourite drawing tools - reminded me that even though I am now commuting to a regular office job, and have multitudes of other commitments outside that, I need to find time to draw. I have joined a life drawing group, but have failed to make it there each week so far this year. My job is creative, and now and again I do pull out a pencil and paper and sketch out rough drafts of layouts and design concepts, which are then scanned and emailed to my long suffering graphic designer. However, I remember Bruce's journals. He carried them everywhere with him, mostly A4 hard covers, and they were full - drawings from the roughest of impressions to quite realised pieces, bits of text and notes of ideas, experiments with materials, the lot.

I am drawing again, albeit irregularly, as my writing becomes more driven by paid work, I need another creative outlet that doesn't carry the same overtones of 'work'. However, I also need some sense of pressure that will drive me to get more consistent with my productivity. If I feel some pressure to put the results somewhere, it means I have to actually create them!

So, for Bruce - so that your legacy carries on - and for myself, because I must, this blog is to get my work happening and out there in some small way as I rebuild a long neglected art practice and see where it takes me in time... Three images for today - the first a drawing from one of my journals in one of Bruce's class - an exercise in blind contour drawing, felt tip pen, and a model we'd never had before who produced some shocks when she disrobed, owing to her copious piercings (Bruce's face, as he struggled to maintain his demeanour was memorable). The second, from a trip to Florence back in 2005, when I did remember to carry a journal and pens, and made all sorts of sketches on the go. The third, most recent piece, from the new group I have joined. Gesso, willow and pit charcoal on A1 cartridge paper.

I think my plan here is to try and post something each week - which may be one big piece, or it may be a series of journal scribbles. I'm not going to make too many rules. I do invite you to join and follow. Send me your thoughts on the creative process. Other artists - introduce yourselves so that we can create a virtual studio where we get together and look at each other's work - another of Bruce's things. The joint review at the end of the day with all the easels turned inward and all of us offering creative, constructive feedback.

Happy scribbling, folks!