Wednesday, 18 November 2015

Conversations with the Material

"I don't want to be here." My own thought surprised me. I sat in art class like had dozens of times before and instead of feeling nervous excitement or curiosity I just felt tired. I stared at the random objects I had brought in with the idea of drawing them: a toy car, some shells, a pine cone, a small lighter in the shape of a gun and the seemed awkward and uninteresting. Everyone else appeared sure and industrious as they set up easels or pulled out the pieces they'd been working on.

The paper I had brought in turned out to be for printing which meant that my ink would bleed and blot. Yet I like the paper's thickness and presence. What to do? After a brief chat about my materials with my teacher I decided to just go ahead with no plan. I have so little command or knowledge of art materials that I figured, at the very minimum, if the work was terrible, I would at least learn more about my paints, my paper, my pen and ink.

It became a conversation with my materials.
'What happens if I do this?'
'Well I react like this...'
Back and forth the wordless discourse continued, I navigated the grain of the surface and studied the lines and the blots. I experimented with my watercolors.

The result was a bizarre and fictional landscape.  A cliff crammed with line and pattern spreading to a dark sea. No plan, it just happened. I realized that the scheming and thinking involved in an idea can render it sterile because the execution rarely lives up to the fantasy, but if I act with only the vaguest of plans the results can be much more satisfying. It is something I need to explore more with my writing.

Friday, 6 November 2015

Return to the Mud Continued

This is perhaps the first class I got through without having anything tangible to show. Since we are focusing on painting a series, I spent the time rummaging through my neglected materials and trying to decide what on earth I should do. Conflicted as I was between the controlled and meticulous drawing I love and the spontaneous process driven work I also enjoy, I could not find a direction. In a sense working within limitations can be easier and so after some ruminating and discussion with my teacher I think I have come up with a plan that will give me freedom to play with a constraint that may give my work cohesiveness. That class time really did see me wade in the mud and I have to remind myself that is how process has to be sometimes.

In twelve months little has really changed in the building where I do my evening classes. The room itself looked pretty much the same, even down to the random objects used as subjects for painting and drawing that punctuated the space. The whole experience felt like time travel, even other students who I know I never met before passed me in the hallway and I expected them to acknowledge me. It wasn't easy to come; in the morning I had kissed my daughter goodbye as I always do and had to stop myself from saying 'see you tonight' since I knew she would be fast asleep once I got home. As we stood as a group in class and discussed our ideas for our series I put my hand in my jeans pocket and found the hospital bracelet that was given to my daughter when she was born. I must have been wearing the same jeans when I left the hospital with her and not worn them since. It seemed very large, remembering how tiny she was when she was born. It is still a little odd to see her full name written out. I took it as a blessing and I think I may take it with me again as a talisman.

Thursday, 5 November 2015

Return to the Mud

Exactly two years after I first started taking art classes and one year since I took my last, I am tonight starting a new one. This will be painting a series.

My daughter has given us the rare gift of good sleep and being extremely even-keeled. That with the additional gift of a good-hearted and supportive husband means that I am able to do this class. so this morning I ransacked my little closet of supplies for paints, pens and papers to take.

Two years ago I was apprehensive and felt ill-prepared when I began the collage class. What a difference two years makes. I rummaged and packed with purpose and excitement though that's not to say that I don't have some reservations about what I will be able to achieve. I am out of practice to say the least and as someone who considers herself to have no natural talent, the practice is what matters.

It is the experience that I look forward to, and I care not one bit for what I make. I just want to be buried in process again and wading through the mud makes me giddy with excitement.