Wednesday 15 April 2015

More Experimental Drawing (2)

Still working from 'Expressive Drawing' (, the next next chapter in the book related to drawing textures.

The book pointed out that in drawing practice there is very little actual texture – you're not creating indentations in the surface of the paper, you're aiming to create the impression of texture, conjuring up an image of texture. Up until now I've always thought of texture as something that is descriptive – I observe what's in front of me and try to describe it through pencil, graphite and charcoal marks. What is new to me is the idea of metaphorical texture – arranging line and mark to describe the internal world of emotion/psyche/spirit. As the book says “It makes the invisible visible, the intangible tangible.”

As I worked through this, all sorts of bells started ringing in my head. Matisse and Klee both talk about delving below the surface into the invisible, of seeking to capture the emotion one feels about a subject rather than visible reality. Kandinsky advises that the artist must express what is peculiar to himself; his eyes should be directed to his own inner life and ears turned to the voice of 'internal necessity'. In his early abstract phase Diebenkorn would routinely reject and destroy paintings that owed too much to the visible world. I know my sketching tends to the 'observational' – I've always thought it is important to capture in a sketch what I see at the time. While this is clearly influenced by the mood I'm in at the time, I cannot pretend that my sketches are a full-blown emotional response to a subject.

So the idea of 'metaphorical texture' interests me greatly!

Let's unpick this a little. It seems to me that to create metaphorical texture one has to set down one's own idiosyncratic marks to describe how one feels about the essence of the subject one is drawing. Abstract artists like Klee created their own language of marks.  If we think that all subjects have hidden depths, we can also recognise that as we observe them we subconsciously bring our own experience into play – what we know or have learned about them, how we have experienced them at first hand, the extent to which we feel comfortable with them/feel unsettled by them/are anxious about them. And I suppose my aim should be to create a personal vocabulary to convey the hidden depths that I see.

Anyway, the exercises in the book were designed to get me thinking about different textures and drawing these.  Then I had to create textures that expressed different emotions. This was my attempt.
 Finally, I had to draw textures from observation without attempting to draw the reality of the objects. (I can see that this is a potential route to invisibility.)  I sat in the dining area with the table and the fire and drew this, a bit like a sampler.
I found it quite difficult, not drawing the objects.  From this last drawing I then had to compose a further drawing using only the textures I had captured.

I think this particular set of exercises sits at the heart of moving from realism to abstraction. I think I should return to it in the future.

In the meantime, to give my head a rest, I finished the day by drawing a Scots Pine that I could observe from my window. I've always been dissatisfied with my previous attempts to draw a Scots pine tree, but this time I tried to focus on the quality of the pine needles and the cloudy appearance of the foliage, thinking about the invisibility of the tree. I thought it turned out quite well and that it's a little different from my other sketches.  I thought I could detect some influence from my drawing session.  Maybe I'm beginning to let go from realism a little. What do you think?
 I will return to this again soon!

More Experimental Drawing (1)

Have had a bit of a break from painting - first there was the exhibition, then I was ill, followed by my London trip (and visit to the Diebenkorn), etc. Must be my longest break for a while. But I'm back into work mode now. Thought I'd try some more experimental 'expressive drawing' to get me up to speed. (I started this in early March - Blog Post 2nd March - based on the book 'Expressive Drawing'

When I left off, I had just finished doing Line and Mark with this drawing - the aim was to create a 'conversation between expressive lines'. This was to be done spontaneously - no pre-planning at all - and I was seeking to have a dialogue between two or three linear 'characters'. It's quite hard doing these things at the time and very interesting to look back at the result now.
It's interesting to look at this drawing having been to the Diebenkorn exhib. I noticed that in his earlier abstract phase he used line a lot and I did like the effect. I did feel a strange sense of satisfaction after doing this drawing.

Now I had to start exploring 'shape'. What type of shape?
  • Geometric & organic
  • Static and directional
  • Simple & complex
  • Angular and curvilinear
  • and more
and then create 3 shape compositions using, first, one circle, one square and one equilateral triangle. Here are the results. Looks like I ended up exploring relationships between the shapes - from stand-off to touching and then overlapping - my logical mind at work, I think.

In the next exercise I had to use an oval, an elongated triangle and a rectangle. Here's how they turned out.

At this stage I'm not really composing the picture in a premeditated way, just being intuitive with these shapes and then looking at the differences between the two sets of drawings. I think the second set of drawings gives a greater sense of tension and movement than the first.

In the final drawing exercises relating to 'shape', I was asked first to mix angular and curvilinear shapes in a composition. Here's what I did.
And then I was asked to mix organic and geometric shapes in compositions.
Interesting results for me. I've never created any drawings like these before. It was challenging and exciting, almost liberating, and has definitely got me thinking about the role played by shapes in a drawing/painting. I feel as if I'm learning something here!  Letting go of realism, perhaps?