Thursday, March 24, 2016


 Line drawing  pen and ink 1974 

1974 - 1976
In 1974 - 76 when I was in my mid teens I drew these two drawings. I can remember drawing them. The bottom one even ended up being framed. So, someone decided it was a good work and warranted special treatment.

The top drawing was inspired by a sideboard my parents had in the dining room of the house I grew up in. An old lamp was placed on top of it. I've embellished the arrangement of items with additional vases and a 'garden' of small branches and flowers. 

The drawing below is from my imagination. Yet, the practice of drawing from nature and my immediate environment is evident. I used to do a lot of drawing of things I saw. The stylised trees or branches are not dissimilar to those in the drawing above. The juxtapositoning of these organic forms with geometric ones is something I used to love to do. It was great to play with patterns  - working out how various elements best 'fit' together as I proceeded with the drawing process. 

Yes, there was some trial and error. I cannot tell you where the errors were made, but I know they were - and I covered them up or changed tack to turn them into parts of the pattern. Yet, I was also thinking ahead about how I might fit the image into the size of paper, how I might render the outer edges to create some kind of visual framing and so on. 

Drawing, and painting too, are processes where both proactionary and precautionary principles work in tandem. Proactionary means trial and error, learning as you go, solving problems as they appear and welcoming the accident as an opportunity. Precautionary means firstly, ascertaining risk factors and secondly, working out ways to avoid and mitigate these risks.  Actions like making sure you have enough space to draw where nothing can be knocked over to spill on the paper is a precautionary action. The artist works out what risks are not worth taking. But, events like ink pooling in a glob at the end of your nib just as you touch the paper creates instances where error can be turned into something positive, thus an example of proactionary principles. A glob of ink can be  manipulated to create a darkened section of the drawing, a shadow, or anything else that 'speaks' to the image. By embracing 'errors' I have found that changes of tack or approach produce unexpected, but often fantastic outcomes. Problem solving, amongst many other processes, is very much part of creativity. Yet, I would suggest that there is something about the tension between proactionary and precautionary concerns that heightens creative impulses, like a push me/pull you energy.
I still love drawing. I love the immediacy of making a mark. But, I also love the trepidation I feel when my hand might wobble, when I can see ink dripping towards the nib, when I notice an insect fly into a wet mark, when I accidently pick up the wrong pen or brush and make a mark before realising...there's a myriad of things that could be classed as errors! 

In fact, as regular readers know I deliberately introduce accidents, especially when I paint. I let the paint drip, pool and coalesce. I may let it dry completely before applying more paint. Or, I might throw more turps onto the canvas, or partially wipe away some paint. I watch what happens as the paint does its own thing. I make decisions about when to intervene. All of this scrutiny and action takes place in the immediate environment of my studio, within the attention of my sensibilities, over a period of time that I can measure, predict and manage. 

I can intervene...and I don't need to have the power on or the batteries charged!

Line drawing pen and ink 1974 - 76


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