Aim: This project continues the theme of focusing attention on your own physicality and opening up your method to new ways of moving.
Method: Stage 1: Set up a reasonably large still life. Make yourself some drawing tools by attaching pencils or pieces of charcoal to the ends of bamboo canes or similar. Place a large sheet of paper on the floor and try to draw your subject using these super-elongated pencils.
Stage 2: As a second stage, if you’d like to add colour to this drawing, grab a handful of wax crayons, pastels or pens for each colour. For a blue jug, for example, pick up half a dozen different blues, greys and lilacs, hold them in your fist and draw with them all at the same time. This will give a woven effect which can be built up to achieve quite subtle effects.
Reflection: What happens when you break the relationship between your brain and the marks you make in this way? Are these simply bad drawings – or do they point the way to a kind of responsiveness within the act of mark-making which enables a more sensitive and ultimately more informative line? This is a loaded question, but respond with your own views and reflections based on what you’ve learned so far.
A long drawing stick!
I didn’t use bamboo despite the profusion of them in my garden. I found a ready-made pole without having to harvest one from the various clumps growing. I utilised a shower curtain pole, short length about 4 feet and extendable up to eight foot long. I set it at approx 6 to 7 feet long with a piece of large size charcoal fitted snug in the open end. Later I was to swap the charcoal for a graphite pencil about 15mm thick. I drew onto A2 cartridge paper taped to a board.
Instead of setting up a still life I utilised areas of the house and mentally cropped what I observed to suit.
I drew several different large still lifes from around the house. These included a sideboard in the hallway, couch and chair plus a table and chairs.
for each of the drawings I utilised the long aluminium pole with either charcoal or a graphite stick attached.
I was pleantly surprised at the level of accuracy I could obtain by using such a long and extended drawing implement.
It was not possible to achieve any level of sensitivity in these drawings as each mark had to be bold and deliberately made by a firm and very positive action. Thus most of the marks are strong and bold, though this does also lend a certain authority to the drawings.
Where there may be elements of sensitivity in the drawings is in the marks which are not the outlines. i.e. the marks that define the structure within the main elements of the drawing.
By the nature of drawing with such a long stick the drawing is much looser and freer giving a informal air of spontaneity and speed to these household mundane articles.
The telephone sits like a guard dog on the hallway cupboard waiting to spring to life. This sense of being poised is heightened by the twisted and lopsided depiction of the phone (a consequence of the drawing method). This tension is added to by the slightly slanting lines of the doors and drawers which shoud be vertical but by being slightly tilted also add to the sense of it being poised to spring to life.
The chairs gathered around the table act like a group of friends jostling for space in a pub, leaning against and towards each other in a huddled conference.
The lone lounger chair seems to hoover and vibrate within the space in front of the bookshelves. If you sat here the chair seems poised to eject you like a highly strung horse tossing it rider.
Adding colour to some of these using a collection of colour in such a ham-fisted method (I used between 4 and 6 crayons of related colour clasped in a fist to apply colour and tone to several of the images), also adds to the unstable nature of the drawings. Drawn with vibrating lines and now having a collection of colour laid over them sets the drawing to even more vibration as the optical colour mixing of the colours laid alongside each other vie for out attention. They combine to set a local colour that in some cases is difficult to define as each colour vies for attention.
Lessons to take from this exercise include the following:
- Utilising a means of application of the drawing line can reflect the struggle to achieve the line in itself.
- The lopsided ellipses and not quite vertical or horizontal lines add an air of instability and a sense of tension to the drawing.
- Applying colour en-mass with little control also produces a tension both in the line produced but also in the vibration of colour as they mix optically.
- This is not a method where great accuracy is required, (though if applied to a portrait it may imbibe a sense of life, living and awareness to the subject.