I’m taking a drawing course through the Banff Centre this spring, a course which focuses on drawing with pencils, something I avoided doing in my college drawing classes by always opting for charcoal. But, I felt that I wanted to dedicate some time to drawing with graphite, and this course popped up in my FB feed. We are drawing eggs. Day 1, I drew one egg. Day 2, two eggs, and so on. These are the four eggs I drew on day four. I’m not getting better at drawing eggs yet, but the great thing about drawing is that I can SEE what I am doing better or not doing better. Doing something “better” doesn’t necessarily result in a better drawing, though.
Trying to draw self-portraits seems to be important to me. I’ve never known what I look like, so drawing focuses my attention on the details that I can’t see on my own. I sit at my easel and look into a mirror propped up to the right, so it feels as if I’m always looking back at myself. I don’t feel as haunted as these self-portraits suggest. I like looking back at self-portraits I tried when I first started art school, and will continue to do self-portraits from time to time as a way to gauge what is important to me at any given time.
There’s something else I like about drawing real people, including but not limited to my self. When I take a photograph of someone, a photograph of my self, I have captured the image at a particular point in time. The picture is taken, and then it is over. When I draw myself, I do this over an extended period of time, making observations of my face, which may be affected in microcosmic ways by what I may be thinking about throughout the drawing process, so I feel as if, unlike a photograph, a drawing is a reflection of the changes that can impact a face over the time of the sitting.
Different micro expressions show up in different parts of the face at different times. So the drawing of a face is a composite of those expressions over the time that the face was observed, not a “moment in time” expression of a photograph. It might be interesting to animate a drawn portrait.
Here is a link to a website that discusses micro expressions. https://www.paulekman.com/resources/micro-expressions/
After sitting with the self-portrait #13 for a day, I made some changes, reflected below. It still doesn’t really look like me, but I’m keeping both up here so I have a record on my blog, and a reminder not to jump the gun, so to speak, but to let things settle in for a while before I declare them finished. In the next iteration, I fixed the jaw line; toned down the ear by making it smaller and lighter; added some light blue in the background; darkened the sweater collar and shoulders.
Next, I want to try a self-portrait using only shades of blue. And in the next version, I’ll work on getting the eyes smaller and farther apart.
I have a number of “projects” that I’m working on, or planned, for the next few months. Right now, while I’m gearing up for the other things I am doing, I’m focusing on drawing with pastels. I also have a small air-dry clay sculpture on the go, but I have ordered a back-iron, a contraption that will help me to make sculptures without having them collapse from the weight.
In my last blog post I included an earlier version of this drawing, not realizing that it wasn’t complete.
I find it impossible to draw anything that does not include some sort of comment on how humans inhabit a dying planet. I am astounded by and curious about my own willingness to continue to turn over my van’s engine, to turn up the heat in my apartment, to run water from a tap. My own contradictions bother me and I try to turn my face away from the contradictions of others, at least until I can get my own under control.
I haven’t posted anything on this blog for a few months because I’ve been busy, but here are some photographs of some of the work I did in school and out of school since February. My focus this semester was ceramics and drawing, and I’m trying to use materials that are as natural as possible. My question is: how do I make things while at the same time thinking that there are enough things in the world already? I liked working with clay because that’s like working with the earth: some people love gardening, and I love getting my hands into the clay. I didn’t think I would. And what do I draw? I tried to draw with charcoal and pastel, avoiding plastics. Do we need more plastic? No. And I tried to draw things that I am concerned about: the impacts of climate change on water, air, animals (including people).
The series of ceramics sculptures entitled Open 1, Open 2, Open 3, and Open 3.2 (immediately below) are pieces through which I was trying to express the ways in which my relationships nurture me. I used a different glaze for each of the pieces, and tried two different firing processes, Raku and Cone 10.
This next series of drawings have been embarked upon since school ended in early April. My relationship with colour in my drawings has been tentative, so my first project for the intersession is to push myself into adding colour to drawings, while also staying with the theme of environmental degradation.
Today’s music: Bach, The Art of Fugue
The Genesis of “Incipient Variant in Petri-Dish”
One, Two, Three
These next three, just playing around. I wanted to see if I could create expression with very simple elements, no internal interpretive cues. I’m currently reading a book called “Asemic: The Art of Writing”; I am being influenced by the idea of asemics, markmaking that looks like some sort of writing, calls the viewer to attempt to interpret the marks/lines by trying to “read” them, but of course they are not representative of any particular language, but merely representative of the “act” of writing and in that way these lines tend to foreground the “art” of writing.
I am attracted to this, and have been for a long time. So far, I’ve tried to work with a depiction of eyelashes, and maybe a way to go with eyelashes is to make them look “asemic”, as if the printed eyelashes are some sort of language that refers to the inexpressible. The more I engage with visual expression in the form of image-making, both 2D and 3D, the more I recognize that like language, both oral and written, there is an interstices that can’t be breached, can’t be expressed. The idea, the feeling, the emotion, lies somewhere beyond words, beyond mark-making, beyond line. Maybe it is somewhat like the extremes of grief and ecstasy.
So, I shall begin more consciously to explore this beyond place, this ineffable and mutable truth.
Student Incubator at CVAG (Comox Valley Art Gallery)
Today, January 8, our 3D design class installed our projects at the CVAG. Here are a couple of photographs of my part.
I’ve been experimenting with rawhide for the past couple of weeks, but took a break for four days, more or less, over Christmas. I bought some pieces of rawhide “seconds”, and had wanted to see how they would look wrapped around some wires, so I constructed a few wire armatures and started wrapped the hydrated rawhide around the wires. I tried sewing some pieces together while wet, but that proved to be difficult, so I bought a leather punch, which made things much easier.
However, I also made a couple of pieces without any rawhide, and they are much cleaner to look at.
Here are some photographs of five different wire sculptures, three with rawhide and two without.
And, finally, some photographs of cloth (painting tarp, actually)
I realize that I’ve been silent for the past month, and that is because I didn’t really have much that is shareable. I’ve finished my courses for the fall semester, and am moving into Christmas break. Here are a few images of what I’ve been working on.
Here are a few photographs I took with my cell phone camera. I seem to be attracted to photographing these monochromatic scenes, where grey disappears into grey. I love this type of weather, this type of light.
Book binding and poetry
Finally, I’m teaching myself some basic bookbinding techniques, including Japanese bookbinding. I have a basic plan to make a small book with two of my own poems in it, and I’m thinking of making the pages out of watercolour paper and then typing the poems and printing them out on high quality computer paper; I’ll attach the poems to the watercolour paper and draw/paint small watercolour illustrations around the poems, and bind it all together with a Japanese binding technique.
Here is a link to one of the videos I’ve watched. I think this technique looks repeatable, and I plan to use it for this first small book. I haven’t yet decided on a cover.
Squash in a dark, cool, dry place wherein they will become gourds by the end of April, 2022.
As I frequently do, I’ll start with the music. Jerusalem in my Heart is a group out of Montreal. Just when I think I’ve found the music that I love the most, I come across something that bumps it out of the way. “that’s the sound I’ve been looking for”, I think to myself, when the new music arrives. And I live, breathe, obsess about the new music until something else arrives out of nowhere.
Here is a link to Jerusalem in my Heart, including a whole bunch of information about the group, and some music samples.
After spending another few hours in the photography studio photographing the entities again, but this time in groupings of two, three, or four (or more), a process during which I became more intimate with each of their personalities, I came away with a concept that will, in a large format that I won’t share here (yet) include the wooden figures I made last year, the white skeletal entities I made in the summer, and the current figures that I’m working on and sharing here now. As part of this concept where I’m starting to see how the figures are “related”, I decided it was time to make a baby. Here is the first baby, and it is called “Before I Was Born”; it’s not really supposed to be me, but that’s the title that popped into my head, so there you go.
I also finished Cat Body since my last post. Baby Body (before I was born) and Cat Body, as well as being part of the larger work I creating, are also part of my assignment for 3D design and integrated studies at the college.
Here is Cat Body.
Entities in studio for second photoshoot
I have the studio booked again for photoshoots on November 9 and 10. Each time I go into the studio I’m adding the new entities and learning more about their interrelationships.
It takes a really long time to upload each photograph to WP, so I’m only including a small handful of the 200 or so that I took last week. Also, most of them are kind of crappy, so I’ll try to include only those that I think capture some of what I’m trying to express. I have annotated the photographs, as all the entities are “named” now, and it will provide a sense of the narrative.