Consolidating a folio of drawings and a written reflection on Part 1

I chose nine drawings to send to my tutor for ongoing feedback. Five of them were from the work I did in Project 2, drawings of the blankets from the archive. I chose a mixture, ink, drypoint, collage and watercolour/pen ones:

I found drawing the blankets from the archive quite a challenge. Trying to record the textures, patterns on a cloth was hard and required a few different approaches. I learnt that I needed to be a lot more focussed and selective when drawing, as it’s almost impossible to process and respond to all the information I am taking in at once, I found it better to make decisions about my drawing. So some I focussed purely on the marks and patterns I could see. Others I found rearranging the fabric and not having it laid out straight was more interesting compositionally. Translating these marks into collage also required me to think differently. How to portray such fine textures and details? I had never thought of using collage in this way. I’ve only ever thought of in terms of shape and form. I have also turned to colour more, and investigated printmaking a bit.

I selected four from Project 3 looking at my flower studies.

Although I enjoyed collecting and arranging my own sources to record from. I don’t think I pushed myself as much in Project 3: Picking and Portraying. I had lots of initial ideas of really playing around with print, pushing the ideas of composition as suggested in the file, but due to being ‘on/off’ with my study time at present I found it hard to keep up the momentum. I think I played it safe/easy in terms of materials.

I really enjoyed looking at Blackadder and Askey in particular – but wondering how I could bring in some other elements. From the research points, I noticed how often I was drawn to and picked out the elements of composition as well as when artists made a bold visual response.

 

Research Point 3: David Hockney

David Hockney oeuvre is broad and wide ranging; through the subjects and themes he investigates and his varied use of media and style.

What I found particularly interesting was how different his black and white charcoal drawings of trees look compared to the rest of his vibrant colour work. I think this is because I have also known him to engage with colour so much, whether in his paintings, drawings, stage design or photographs. The charcoal drawings show more textures. I really like the “Guest House Wall” which showed a wide range of tones and mark making, and exploring how many different marks and effects one can create with charcoal.

His computer drawings, “Autumn Leaves, 2008” could almost lend themselves to a design for a textile pattern.

His other drawings and paintings, using crayon, watercolour and oil paint are bold, bright – many seem almost stylised, but depth is created, not only through perspective and composition, but his search to make different marks. Lines, squiggles, dots…

He inspires and reminds me to not be limited by media or one type of line. He pushes the boundaries and is fresh about it.

 

Research Point 1: Notes on Wabi Sabi

I have known of the Wabi Sabi concept previously, but was glad to be reminded of it.

Wabi: Freedom from attachment / Subtle / Profundity / Simple / Humble

Sabi: Austere / Sublimity / Asymmetry / Weathered

Wabi-Sabi: Simplicity / Tranquility / Naturalness / Grace

This quote,  “wabi-sabi is the art of finding beauty in imperfection and profundity in earthiness, of revering authenticity above all,”

and from the same site:

Wabi-sabi reminds us that we are all transient beings on this planet—that our bodies, as well as the material world around us, are in the process of returning to dust. Nature’s cycles of growth, decay, and erosion are embodied in frayed edges, rust, liver spots. Through wabi-sabi, we learn to embrace both the glory and the melancholy found in these marks of passing time.

Robyn Griggs-Lawrence, Wabi-Sabi: The Art of Imperfection

I find these notions life affirming, and helpful not only in creative making, but approaching living in general. It makes me think of not fighting against something. To live with surrender, it eases the need to assert/prove oneself. It is about accepting things, and realising that true beauty comes from the ability to recognise the beauty, the good everywhere.

Leonard Koren discusses the relationship between Wabi-Sabi and the notion of beauty, “the condition of coming to terms with what you consider ugly…that beauty is a dynamic event”.

This concept of ageing, that that beauty is not static and cannot be found in something not changing.

Sabi things carry the burden of their years with dignity and grace: the chilly mottled surface of an oxidized silver bowl, the yielding gray of weathered wood, the elegant withering of a bereft autumn bough. An old car left in a field to rust, as it transforms from an eyesore into a part of the landscape, could be considered America’s contribution to the evolution of sabi. An abandoned barn, as it collapses in on itself, holds this mystique.

http://nobleharbor.com/tea/chado/WhatIsWabi-Sabi.htm

On reading this, I immediately took my camera and ran out to my garden, and behind my own sheds there is a field, in which there is that type of abandoned barn, collapsing in on itself. I look at it everyday as I park my car near it, and am always drawn to it, never really knowing why. Apart from maybe, thinking, when is it going to fall? Or will it do so, so slowly that I won’t even notice? Photographing it today, I noticed how much more it has crumbled and fallen since i originally moved here. And yet I see it every day? So I didn’t notice.

Wabi-Sabi seems to be about the art of balance. Of noticing how far you can go, or how little you can have, or  how ruined, how old, how minimal, how unfinished, how incomplete. It seems to be about having a peaceful relationship with time. With anything that is dynamic actually. So, relationships and creating come into this too.

Sources:

http://www.utne.com/mind-and-body/wabi-sabi.aspx

http://nobleharbor.com/tea/chado/WhatIsWabi-Sabi.htm

http://www.touchingstone.com/Wabi_Sabi.html

Assignment 2, Part 1, Project 2, 1.4: Lines & Edges / 1.6: Detail & Definition

I found the archive items I had chosen much more conducive to being recorded and observed via these exercises.  I have grouped them together because at times I was using both the idea of line to look at the details, the damage, the close ups. This is probably due to the blankets being blankets, quite flat and 2 dimensional, but with plenty of texture and pattern to record.

 

I recorded the drape and patterns of the teal Lewis blanket using ink. I kept adding papers together as I went. I found this a liberating way to work, only committing to more space as and when I needed it.

IMG_2746

The details, especially the edges, the fraying that occurred in the Flintshire blanket was really interesting to me, as was the pattern from the Lewis blankets. I made many small pencil drawings of them when visiting the collection.

IMG_2761

I then found further ways to explore these marks, with pencil, ink and drypoint printmaking and watercolour washes.

 

I also use ink, pen on acrylic washes, mono print and dry points to capture the lines and details. I found that trying to record the whole item was so difficult, it was much easier to focus, go close-up or pick out key parts that I wanted to record.

 

 

Project 2: Recording & Capturing

I have been working through the exercises, as always in a very UN linear fashion. This is partly due to wanting to make the most of my time recording directly from the collections in situ, and following as many of the exercises as possible in this way. I did make sure to take a lot of photos. I visited three times in total, and found that recording straight from source was the best way for me to really understand the nature and qualities of the blankets.

I did print out my photos, and in some cases colour photocopied them and enlarged them so that I could get a better sense of the details and patterns.

1.3: Making Marks

I thought I would enjoy this exercise. I did enjoy exploring mark making and thinking about the qualities of the blankets. I did come up with some lists in my sketchbook:

Texture, weight, structure, damage, sturdiness, rough, practical, warm, heavy, old, pattern, itchy, thick, weighty, strong, repetition, old, bobbled, fraying, geometric, intense,  weave, handmade, worn, full, enveloping, functional, wrapping, useful, woollen, cotton, linear.

I used a number or tools: toothbrush, sandpaper, roller, scourer, credit card, palette knife, corrugated card, cling film, a bottle cork…

What I found challenging is to interpret the items with these marks. I did create one piece that I thought was successful in capturing some of the linear, strong and weighty qualities:

IMG_2782
Using cork, credit card, palette knife and acrylic

I also experimented with some printmaking techniques, for instance making collagraphs of inked up muslin to reflect the weave, heaviness, intense and full qualities that I had noted in my list, along with the woven elements to the fabric:

IMG_2794

Nostalgia

I find that these Welsh blankets carry a lot of nostalgia for me. It makes me think of people living in more humble situations. A more humble time. These blankets are functional. I associate them with people living in harsher winters, in cold stone and slate cottages with fires and the odd age. It creates an image of ‘home and hearth’.
Even visiting the collection, Jane Beck has recreated a tin shed, full of bakelite goods, using scraps of blankets and made them into cushions, hot water bottle covers, tea cosies…She even has Radio 4 playing in the shop. These evoke another time, a post war era of ‘make do and mend’, rationing, keeping warm, keeping together…cosy, safe, protected.
It is a heritage that isn’t my own, but living here in West Wales, a strong sense of these values remain. The rural life and culture here move at a slower pace then the one that I was brought up in London.
Nostalgia has definitely been making a comeback these past few years. There seems to be a return to bespoke/handmade/craft/ancient arts/vintage. In a world of speed, change, returning to something old can give us a sense of security.
These blankets are standing the test of time, and still serve their purpose.
Particularly the two made by Daniel Lewis all woven with a 4 heddle loom from his house in Barley Mow.