I was disappointed in the outcome of Assignment 3. I am increasingly interested in process and trying to be less concerned about outcome, and I found the process interesting and productive, yet remained bugged about the outcome. Thinking hard about this, after piercing questioning by my tutor, I realise that an important part of my process is examining and analysing marks after the physical process is complete. When I had completed drawing to music, marks were obscured under layers, and whilst this made for interest in some places, it was merely an unintelligible jumble elsewhere. By photographing details, I was trying to isolate them, and my dissatisfaction lay less in the layering and more in the lack of negative space. Marks work by their interaction with the surrounding negative space.
With this realisation, I have resolved to rework the exercise, but I plan to use a succession of supports and make only a small series of marks on each (though the marks may be large) or work only for a short time and then move on to another support. I could even work off the edge or across a couple of supports and then change their relationship. Of necessity, these will be smaller than the huge sheet originally used, and in order to retain the freedom of using my whole arm, I shall continue to work on the floor with media of different scales. My plan is to the review them and perhaps rework them by addition or subtraction, by cropping in or even joining them up.
I created a stack of supports using B&Q lining paper. This is an attractive support for its liberating low cost, big rolls, smooth on one side and rough on the other and an ability to cope with the addition of some moisture. The supports vary in size from A4ish to A2ish but don’t have rectangular edges. I drew to Pink Floyd’s ‘Endless River’ again, but also some short classical pieces such as ‘Night on a Bare Mountain’ by Mussorgsky. Having learnt a lot from my first efforts, the work was videoed as a record of process, with an example below. This uses music subject to copyright, so the video is passworded using my student number 509995.
A series of drawings was created of different shapes, sizes and density of marks.
A selection of drawings, showing range of marks:
The music creates energy and spontaneity in the marks. I wondered if I could use one of the larger drawings where I had created a denser mesh of marks, as a starting point for another drawing, and retain this sense of energy. I am particularly interested in ways of creating energy and lively mark making within my life drawing, so to explore this, I used on of the drawings as a basis for a self portrait. This involved finding areas and shapes within which to locate my composition, smoothing the marks on some areas and developing them in others, whilst trying to retain the energy of the original marks and make new ones with a similar energy.
Derek Overfield creates large life paintings with the kind of energised marks which I had I mind. The figures are not fully resolved, giving the impression of a fleeting pose that he had no time to capture in full. The poses themselves are energetic with the body coiled or tensed for movement, so I imagine that, indeed, they were brief, and his use of monochrome adds to the drama. Oldfield given an insight in to his working practice here. His works on paper show how he combines line with blocks of tone to create both movement and volume. Interestingly, he seems to always omit feet. Perhaps this is because concentrating on the torso gives him the volume and power he is looking for in the composition. Including the whole figure can lead to a long, linear composition unless the model strikes a very closed, compact pose.
Another contemporary artist who manages to get this raw energy into his marks for life drawing is Korean artist KwangHo Shin. In the examples of his work shown on this webpage, there is a series of oil portraits followed by some monotone drawings using conte. The paintings lack the excitement of the drawings; the marks are smaller and more repetitive in form in the former, perhaps caused by the constraint of producing a work for sale or a likeness, whilst the drawings have a wild exuberance. These drawings in conte seem to be created from a dense directional scribble as an initial description of form, which is then wiped and softened to find mass before further linear marks are added, producing veiled forms with a sense of mystery.
Returning to the other drawings in the series, I selected several with the most interesting range of marks and stuck them down to a much larger support (two strips of lining paper, joined). I then sketched the layout in my sketchbook and thought about how I could again work to music to link them into a larger composition. This would mean working spontaneously to music but with some mental framework to direct my mark making.
This has been a much more successful exploration of drawing to music than my first attempt. I did not necessarily fulfil all the objectives which I set myself but the final, combined work does capture the sense of the elemental power of the music. The value of using music is the energy and spontaneity it creates in the marks. It was interesting to try to use such a drawing as a starting point for a self portrait, and it made me use freer marks than I might usually, but the result is rather peculiar; it feels like one thing shoe-horned into another. The drawing lacks any calm areas where the eye can rest.
In contrast, the combined work where I have taken the original drawings and extrapolated them with the same family of marks into a very large, abstract design, feels much more authentic and lively. It evokes some embodiment of the forces of nature, certainly something organic and alive. If I wasn’t working to music, my shapes and marks might be better considered or placed and some are repetitive, in response to repeated rhythms and chords, but the gain is the feeling of energy and excitement. I could imagine taking this drawing as a starting point for a drypoint print, inscribing into a plate with a point and a Dremel and using a brush with glue and carborundum.
I now see a video as an outcome in its own right, rather than just a record of process, and my skill at producing a well lit and recorded video is improving. I think that watching the marks develop, change, appear and then disappear has its own fascination and I hope to develop this idea further in my parallel project.