I was going through some old work when I came across these drawings. They were from my last ever life drawing class at Loughborough University, back on my ma, in 2009. I had ready begun to understand the use of verbal and visual thought to express, but it was these pieces which started me off wanting to improve my technical skills.
I remember feeling frustrated, wanting to work up the drawings more tonally and express something deeper, but not been able to as it did not come naturally. This is where I started to learn about tone and then colour, logically and to become more visually aware, as well as the different technical approaches.
Through reading, learning and the exercises most of which fill this blog, the expression, not all, had got lost, tone and colour had become the expression like and illustration, and not part of my expression.
There are some especially in my observational drawings, where the expression is there, where it has crept in the work, and it’s self is about expression. It can be felt in the emotional quality of the line and the letting go, expressing without any limitations.
These 3 different series of drawing, from my plants, show tree different ways I have expressed and all show something I want to continue in my work to-day. The chilli plant is similar to the life drawing using automatic writing and focused attention, it is what I was doing before and what i am doing now, but have a better of understanding of the process, the purpose behind it and the use of intention. These were drawn between projects with no thought given to them, until I found them in my sketchbook.
The sun flowers were drawn after reading Betty Edward’s The New Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain (The new drawing on the right side of the brain. New York: Penguin, 1994). Where she gives you a logical approach to seeing, which figuratively and literally builds up a picture (First you see/draw the edge of the object which at the same time creates the negative space, this is followed by the relations of any other line/object/thing that insects it, next is tone followed by colour etc.). It teaches you how to become more aware. I’ve tried to show the process that created the drawing, in the drawing. This is something I am dealing with in my work now, drawing my process.
The book didn’t really help me with tone, so I decided to try and logically understand how it works, (light source, highlights, mid tone, core shadow, reflected light, cast shadow) which I’m still trying to get my head around, learning to see it. The main problem was with the application how to draw tone, after looking at old masters drawing and their techniques, I have come to accept I’m not a painter; I draw I use line and have to fine my own natural way of dealing with tone.
Harold Speed’s book The Practise and Science of Drawing (Speed , Harold. The Practice and Science of Drawing. New York/US: Dover Publications Inc, 1998.) explained the difference between line drawing and mass drawing and the two different ways of seeing the world.
That lines creates more solid drawings which are preferred and more associated with the west and their art and the way they see. Whereas the east art is more tonal, which relates to more spiritual. The Ideal is to have balance between the two and so helps me explain why I wanted to bring more tone into my work and to be able express something deeper.
The last of the series, are line drawings which were done back in 2011. They seem to be more complete and have a better understanding of what I’m trying to do, than my work now. I’ve done I normally do, gone round the long way, do something then try everything else just to make sure it’s right, may be its just lack of confidence or its just part of my process and I will never learn.
In these observational drawings I have found a way to use tone with line, putting in what is needed and leaving out the rest, where-as before when looking at tone, and trying to copy everything I saw. The difference I now understand, as I am revisiting this in my work, using observational drawing as form of meditation, something to focus and concentrate on, which leads the drawing, rather than a technique or application of medium.
It is not just my authentic expression that keeps coming through in my drawing, when it is blocked it also manifest itself in a similar way that is repeated through my work, its frustration which repeats its self over and over again trying to draw its self out, which when this happens, I’ve learnt I need to do more research, to learn or understand something about my practise.
These drawings are from a few years ago, when I first moved to Liverpool and I’ve kept them because I think they are a clear reflection of the state of my mind at the time, lost. The other are drawing of old masters’ work that I have copied, as copying was part of their training. I technically improved but did not know what to do except keep repeating it, layering, like I got stuck on pause. It was because I did not know what I was wanted to express, I has nothing to say apart from this is how it looks.
I now have a better understanding of what it is I want to express and how to do it, the technical aspects I have learnt are and will continue to feed into it. It is what I am researching now, the different from of mediation and mindfulness and how it relates to my drawings, that it is helping me get a clear idea of what it is I’m express and why. I am using it to learn about myself, my art and as a guide to validate my ideas rather than dictate them.
Writing this blog, looking back through my work and reflecting really does help me see that my work and thoughts are not as scattered as they seem, that there does seem to be a connection and direction, even if I don’t know what that is at the moment.