I am really fed up with myself at this point. I feel my work is going nowhere. I am churning out the same stuff I usually do bar a few differences here and there.
How to change this? I have been reading MacDonald J (2010) Drawing around the body:- the manual and visual practice of drawing and the embodiment of knowledge: Leeds Metropolitan University (I will comment on this in a more detailed way in a specific post about the document). In the work MacDonald writes about ‘Further Projects’ and one of the projects is entitled ‘De-skill and Re-skill’. She writes ‘..This involved a further deconstruction of my practice of observational drawing. Taking the configuration of manual, visual and tool-using skills in my practice, I broke this down systematically by removing each of these three elements in turn: holding the pencil between my toes; shutting my eyes and drawing in response to tactical sensations; and drawing by rubbing charcoal powder directly onto the paper with my fingers’.
I, therefore, contemplated how I might apply this to my own practice to try and change the way I work. I identified my right hand as my tool for habitual drawing and my eyes for habitual perception – two things I could work with to try and combat this issue. I can, therefore, replace my drawing with my right to my left, and keep my eyes closed rather than open.
I am also reading Romdenh-Romluc K. (2011) Merleau-Ponty and Phenomenology of Perception: Routledge and want to use a different response than visual perception for my depiction of the Angela Johnson’s. I am very interested in phenomenology, however, I have not yet tried to apply it to my practice. It is an ongoing aim and one I would like to start to try and understand from this point onwards.
I begin by working with my left hand and also working blind with my right, only looking at the image not the paper. I also work trying to connect with my feeling about the people I am painting, my experience of the work rather than using my intellect.
I started off with this A1 left-handed line drawing. I was pleased with the way the work began but I ended up over-working it. I spent a long time just painting thin layers – and I found it very difficult indeed! I struggled massively – with the speed of the work, with the way of working, and also with my own experience as I find it very difficult to sit with work that looks unfinished. It was very difficult to keep suspending my judgment that I had messed it up.
Having then managing to mess it up spectacularly (!) I then did what my tutor suggested and turned the work upside down to give me an alternative perspective. I painted out a lot of the detail, turned the painting on its side and tried another line drawing of the same image, left handed, over the top.
Whilst I realise the exercise brief asks for the work to be in A1, having done the first piece, I felt it only encouraged me to slip into habits. I, therefore, decided to work on a number of experiments on small pieces.
The following were either left handed, or I used my right hand without looking at the page. I then worked in layers (at least 6 for most), leaving the pieces to dry in-between.
I am astonished at this point that my work is still looking very much the same as ever, even when using my other hand.
I did another line drawing with my left hand (in layers) on A3
and another smaller piece on canvas
I then decided to try out line drawings with my left hand without looking and then with looking:-
What have I learnt from these exercises?
- drawing with my left hand doesn’t take me out of my drawing perception, it is still too literal. I need to combine it with the removal of sight.
- I need to look further into a phenomenological response to the work. I am intending to watch https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mv7Vp3NPKw4 and https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cVGAxMo-kiw
- I have to contemplate further on how to engage with the unexpected, the spontaneous. I will work on a series of line drawing mono prints where I do not look at the page to see if this assists me in my task of relearning to draw without looking.
Were there any images I was pleased with?
Despite the fact that there are 3 or 4 layers on this, I have managed to keep the mark making to a minimum, the colours are subtle and it is moving away from a predictable format. Again, another technique I need to work on.