Thursday, 30 June 2016

Black Lines

As an enthusiastic but untrained artist, drawing has long been a thorn in my (creative) side. Coupled with a penchant for perfectionism, my attitude and beliefs about drawing have been real stinkers that have undoubtedly held me back. I have read and followed some revelationary advice from lots of sources, but principally Cat Bennett's book 'The Confident Creative - Drawing to Free the Hand and Mind which has had a huge impact on how I approach drawing now. I find placing restrictions on myself really enhances my creativity and one of the biggest issues I have with drawing is the practice of using pencil. It reminds me of painful art lessons at school where I spent more time rubbing out and redoing than actually just doing. Having the option to make tentative lines and marks that if they are 'wrong' (and that's a whole other blog post!) can be erased and redone is a nightmare for me.
Last year I went on an urban sketching session in Manchester and sat doing some real observational drawing for the first time in over 25 years. All my feelings about drawing (how crap I am, blah blah blah) came flooding back and I may as well have been 14 again. I drew an overworked picture and created a small molehill of eraser crumbs and if I hadn't been with a lovely friend I probably would have given up and gone home with a blotchy face and a bad attitude. Instead, I persevered and tried sketch number two but this time committed to only using my black fineliner and put my pencil and eraser away. This move was a watershed moment for me. Yes, I still wasn't high-fiving myself for what I'd produced but it felt like a completely different exercise. I felt brave and careless with my permanent marks and lines. They looked so confident on the page that I was almost seduced by their self belief and didn't hate what I'd done. I believed in them. Rubbing them out and replacing them with essentially more of the same, wasn't an option for me anymore. I now almost always draw exclusively with fineliner pens and simply accept what I make them do. The strong black lines look so bold and decisive, so sure of themselves that it seems rude to question them. So I don't.   

Tuesday, 21 June 2016

Less is More

Ideas come without warning sometimes and I'm impatient so I like to seize on them, then and there. For me, the more complex, equipment-driven a technique is, the less I want to do it. It feels like barriers are being put in place between me and my idea.  These barriers are money, time and space all three of which are always connected.
I love printing. Print feels substantial, strong and cries out to be shared. I'm always drawn to that kind of bold artwork. However, I don't have the money, time or space to set up a screenprint studio. I don't want to make intricate lino or woodcut prints (though I love other peoples'). I want to just get my ideas down quickly, on a budget, at home in my little room.

I have some beautiful books on blockprinting which have massively inspired me but even they have been offputting at  times with lists of specialist tools and materials that I appear to need before I can make my image (that is itching to be made, right now!).

I have instead made things as simple and cheap as I can for myself to just get the job done.
My rubber stamps are not special, they are poundshop erasers. I carve them with a craft knife and my fingernails. I only spend major money on ink (basically unavoidable when printing).

  Initially I spent some frustrating hours trying to carve delicate patterns into my rubberstamps, at the end of which I was so peed off that I usually gave up on the idea I had. Now I am kind to myself and my ideas and stick to a handful of simple shapes and make them WORK for me. They are more striking in their simplicity, they always make me feel something and I can do them where I am sat typing right now. No ten-step barrier that kills my idea. Bish Bash Bosh.

What I always hope is people see my work and think "I could do that". Obviously I don't hope for a rip off of my work, that's always just bad manners, but the DOING of something unique by someone else after seeing my work. All I have done is thought it, then done it. Simple as that. Money, equipment, technical nouse, specialist training  - brilliant if you have access to them. Don't be discouraged if you don't. Find another way!