Responding to the challenging title of (IN)Organic, drawing and mark making as a thinking process focused my mind as to the many possibilities this concept offered. January 2018 turned into an intense period of visual research.
Where to start to unravel the brief? I chose to work with water (inorganic) and cellular leaf structures (organic): opposites which through photosynthesis, thrive.
Visions of drought-stricken landscape with plant forms struggling to survive resonated with me as both an artist and a gardener. Water as a life giver and life starved of water. Without water, plants become shadowy forms, parched by drought.
Originally conceived as drawing for print, these new drawing have been put on one side to be developed at a later stage on a grand scale. Working on this scale freed up my thinking and more than any thing else suggested many directions for further development into printmaking onto paper, cloth and other surfaces.
To do justice to the former I wanted to work on a grand scale. Lacking in the facilities to produce traditional screen prints on this scale or the timescale to create digital prints with screen printed interventions I chose the constructed option.
This initial period of intense drawing helped to make sense of the concept of InOrganic, informing the direction of the finished art work Parchment 2018 but not the main visual content. Indicative of my organic making process, where one thing leads to another, there are several strand to my practice which connect on many different levels BUT not all in the same piece of work.
It is knowing which elements to develop to solve a particular visual problem, and at the same time having enough self discipline to dispense for the time being with other elements. I am thinking here of the large scale visuals shown above which I will return to at a later date. This presentation focuses on the process of adding, eliminating. combining, simplifying so that ever element of the work is necessary for the pieces of work in question.
Rain washed inks on textured papers individual images 30cm x 40cm “Food grows where water flows”. Created when the rains finally arrived after a summer of drought and fires here in Portugal in 2017
Watery backgrounds. inks allowed to run, pool and drip. Mixed media visuals referencing cellar structures in leaf forms. Pen and brushed inks, water based pencils. A timely reminder of the principles of photosynthesis and the process of water coursing through plants and that every living thing needs food and energy to survive. Visually these cellular structures were suggestive of nets and knitting, but the drawing style felt very precious, too literal and diagrammatic. Each piece measures 30cm x 40cm approx.
Noting that dried and parched plant form on my studio window ledge were casting strong shadows and a pile of watery backgrounds remained unused, this set of visuals were made quickly, standing up to draw and trying not to be too precious about the mark making. The previous drawings lacking in energy and vigor. Each piece 30 x 40 cm.
Moving back to more tight, uninspired mark making, these pieces embodied everything I had been trying to get away from. This Stop Look and Listen moment paid off eventually. Graphite and water based coloured pencils aiming to combine elements of previous works.
Shadow play …First a less is more moment with various types of graphite pencils but still working on too small a scale.
Chasing Shadows 1. Working in monochrome, paper size 100cm x 70cm using a range of dense black graphite pencils, water colour sticks and pure graphite these pieces were worked quickly and with confidence. Chasing the shadows as they moved and elongated, noting changes in the way the edges of the shadowy forms became softer or harder, smudging the soft graphite, working the tones dark to light, turning the paper to create composite, layered images. Reinvigorated and energised I was reminded that I enjoy the challenge of the hands on visual research process.
Chasing Shadows 2 Graphite sticks and pencils with water colour pencil on paper. 100cm x 70cm
Chasing Shadows 3 Graphite sticks and pencil on paper. 100cm x 70cm
Chasing Shadows 4 Graphite sticks and pencil on paper. 100cm x 70cm
Chasing Shadows 5. Graphite sticks and pencil on paper. 100cm x 70cm
Chasing Shadows 6. Parched, dried up plant matter, coloured pencil and graphite on off white paper. 58cm x 84cm
Chasing Shadows 7. One of a pair of less is more, fade-in fade out drawings in graphite. Shadows cast from netted textile structures. On the edge of being something tangible but not always sure of what. Cell like structures, part of an organic development process seeing where the drawing go.
Visuals as a thinking process. Working on this scale freed up my thinking and more than any thing else suggested many directions for further development into printmaking onto paper, cloth and other surfaces. A decision needed to be made quickly as to whether to develop the shadowy drawings into print onto cloth or construct surfaces around the idea of parched landscapes.
To do justice to the former I wanted to work on a grand scale. Lacking in the facilities to produce traditional screen prints on this scale or the timescale to create digital prints with screen printed interventions I chose the constructed option for the finished piece of textile artwork.
The initial period of intense drawing helped to make sense of the concept of InOrganic, informing the direction of Parchment 2018 but not the main visual content.
Standing back from ongoing, practical textile work, time spent making the new drawing gave a space to process what had gone before in the practical work and to consider how these exploratory sampling could be further developed. For example digitally stitched networks as shown above.
Experimental sampling. Handmade silk papers, parchment like to the touch, suggestive of scars and tracks on ancient/dried up landscapes.
Resolved sampling. Layered silk papers, digitally stitched inlaid with grids of linen thread.
Three dimensional layers of stiffened grid structures and molded silk papers.
The final part of the process in the making of Parchment 2018, focused on adding, subtracting, combining, simplifying so that every element of the work is necessary for the piece as a whole.
Parchment 2018 constructed from hand made silk papers (mulberry silk fibres) inlaid with linen thread formed using CMC paste between synthetic mesh. Layered collage techniques. Hand and machine stitching. Relief forms internal structure formed over Lutrador. Three layers: silk paper structure, under layer of scrim, mounted onto either off white upholstery vilene or thick handmade or water colour paper.hand made silk paper surfaces, digital and hand stitching. Dimensions 170cm x 62cm
Details Parchment 2018
Details Parchment 2018
One Thing leads back to another. Chasing Shadows 1. Selected areas reworked and developed into printmaking. Initially small scale to perfect new techniques in etching. Ultimate aim to make larger scale plates. Etching plate shown at bottom RHS.
Parched. Drawing development experimenting with a range of tonal effects and textures within a single etching plate. See bottom right showing partially etched zinc plate. Plate size is 16.5 cm x 25 cm.
First stage test print of Parched. Colour story and workshop notes detailing all aspects of the work in progress. Layered tracings to establish composition and tonal balances.
Parched. Etching on zinc plate. printed with Charbonel Agua wash inks. Deeply etched areas of varying depths, with surface textures. For those familiar with etching to bring out the textures my inking up technique involved the use of a flexible plastic card, toothbrush and a brush used for applying henna to the hair, and scrim. Wiping the plate was equally challenging…yellow pages plus hand wiping! Plate size 16.5cm x 25cm.
New color stories for print. Faded, greyed, roses and much more: colours for follow up project.
Experimental textured silk papers with print and coloured inks. Surfaces for print for follow up project.
An added bonus in the one thing leads to another method of working is the image bank ripe for translation into new works on large and small scales. A starting point for an exhibition of small works (as yet untitled) November 2018 Coimbra, Central Portugal.
An ideal and evocative venue, the Recordatorio Rainha Santa Isabel/Alfredo Bastos also incorporates the Posto de Turismo. Recordatorio loosely translates as memories. My immediate thoughtswere memories are like fleeting shadows, coming in and out of focus as the light changes, fading colours, shadowy forms and fragile organic matter. Add to the mix roses, which makes a link with the story of Rainha Santa Isabel and the city of Coimbra.