Exercise 2.2

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.

linedrawingleft11 linedrawingleft12 linedrawingleft25

linedrawingleft15 linedrawingleft16 linedrawingleft18

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:-

Without looking

linedrawingleft5 linedrawingleft6 linedrawing7 linedrawingleft8

With looking

linedrawingleft1 linedrawingleft2 linedrawingleft3 linedrawingleft4

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?

linedrawingleft9 This image is the furthest away from my ‘norm’ – it was drawn mostly with the left hand and without looking.  I will, therefore, endeavour to continue to explore this form of my drawing.

linedrawingleft12 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.


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