Ink and mess-making demonstration

So. Did my Artist in Residence spot yesterday. What does one demonstrate? It needs to be something that you can do and talk at the same time and that is not necessarily easy because while one is using the spacial areas of the brain it is really hard to talk. That’s why, while driving, if someone cuts you off or does something funny, you have to stop talking.

So I decided to play around with ink. Abstracts and mark making, what it does well and what different types of ink, blotters and paper can do.

And then of course is the masterpiece that is the blotting paper. Sometimes more interesting than the intended things.

but this, actually, sums up the idea behind the day:

and that’s not a complaint. I love being a performing seal. (Thanks Warick, per kind favour Rose, for the wording)

What Fun! Big Draw Lobethal

What a day, what a weekend! The opening of our Big Draw Lobethal drawing festival was today. Here is Veronica Osborn-Jefferis’s beautiful hands as she draws on fabric with a sewing machine.

And some of her display pieces:

Meanwhile everyone got into wall drawing, charcoal in this case:

Here are some of Joshua Lamborn’s drawings in metal:

And Barbara Millward’s drawing of a hand in wire:

What wonderful line.

Melinda Rankin, who is the new director of the art and heritage space, was our opening speaker. She talked (among other things) of how we draw naturally when we are children, and often lose our confidence somehow. But that it is an innate urge, that kids will do it with whatever is at hand: textas, ‘flour-covered hands’. Here in Melinda in full swing, urging us all to, ‘ Go play!’

There will be four more weekends, different Artists in Residence each week. Demonstrations of blacksmithing next weekend (22nd and 23rd Sept) and again two weekends later. And various workshops. Yesterday I did Tammy Pahl’s workshop that combines drawing with yoga. So much fun, I can’t stop smiling when I think about it. We got seriously and hilariously grubby.

She will have a workshop for kids and their adults later. Next week Anne Griffiths will run one for kids where they can all dance and draw to music. I want to do that one but apparently I am not a kid!

The workshops are not all for kids though, Julia Wakefield will hold two for adults, a life drawing class and one that she calls, ‘Drawing for the Terrified’. And Zinia King will enable participants to draw their ‘Anthropomorphic Australian Animal’. She is holding a class for adults and one for children.

And there is lots to see and do, everyday of each weekend.

Links to workshops here

And other info here

the pointy end

After many years of drawing, one’s marks get very clever, swish, known, predictable. I want them to be raw, vital, primal, with the character of something coming into the world for the first time, as if they were innocent, exploratory, finding themselves. I want them to brim with vital life force.

So many contradictions in this aim. They are, of course, coming into the world for the first time. They are not reproductions. Also, surely, if you are striving for innocence, it can be nothing but contrived?
Well yes, but you can work in some new way, exceptionally slowly, or fast, or use an implement that, by its very nature, cannot produce a known result. That’s why I make silly brushes out of reeds and dogs’ hair, and feathers that are too oily to hold ink. Also why I love accidental mark, blind mark, and mark made with the whole body, the marks of a nervous system.

I began the 30 Days of drawing with no particular aim, but hoped that this concerted period of time drawing would help me define a direction of interest for my art, so it would be more focused and less diverse. I hoped I would find something (a theme or method) that I could focus on. A direction. That hasn’t worked. I want to do a different thing every day, every moment, even! But there are a lot more figurative works and less non representational abstracts in the mix than I expected. (More figurative not in this photo)

I have discovered that I hate drawing from a subject unless I find it interesting. It needs to be fun, loved, unusual or macabre.

Drawing is a good way to pass time and it calms anxiety. It is like a mindful retreat.

You learn a lot about a subject by drawing it. There is a sort of intimacy in the act. Also I respect the subject more afterwards. Drawing is like an act of worship.


We are at the pointy end of this process. I need to have my work ready to submit at the end of the week, named and catalogued, artist statement etc. I seriously dislike business.

Brain oozing out

A bit inundated lately. I feel like the guy on the right; my brain oozing out.

Still, I’m enjoying this notebook that I’ve been keeping for the 30 days of drawing. It’s longer than thirty days now. Usually I go through a notebook in less than thirty days but this one is mostly drawing. It will be on display. That’s new. My notebooks are usually quite private.

The one in the left was done while watching TV. Right hand one is from Kasia Tons’ wonderful embroidered masks. Have a look at her work on Amazing stuff.

Ink and handmade brushes and nibs. Very yummy fun.

We’re getting to the pointy end of this process. I can’t wait to see everyone’s work on the walls.

If you’re a Facebooker (and even if you aren’t) look up Big Draw Lobethal. Some of the other participants work is up there.

The brush goes on excursions

One thing I love about drawing is that the immediacy shows. Take something like this to painting or printmaking and it is very hard to keep that feeling of looseness. And even if you do it usually remains a drawing. Or looks contrived.

We are having lots of discussions in the group I’m participating in (30 days of drawing, for The Big Draw, in Lobethal, South Australia) about what drawing and painting are, and where the separation might be.

A friend of mine said she things of a lot of painters as drawers. Toulouse-Lautrec, obviously, but also Picasso because his images are founded in line. This is different from painters who build up images in colour and tone. Cezanne, I think, even Van Gogh, though I love his reed pen drawings too. Come to think of it, those drawings, even though monochrome, seem to build up the images with repetitive movement rather than define an outline.

What do you think? Can you think of good examples of both?

whether or not the sun is yellow

IMG_E4516aThere once was a little girl whose teacher told her that the sun has yellow rays. She had drawn it with rays of every colour. She knew the teacher was wrong because had seen the sun that very morning through the refractors of her eyelashes. Every colour was there. She thought it was worthy of awe. The teacher, however, said, ‘The sun has yellow rays’, so the little girl drew it with yellow rays from then on.

But one day, years later, when her body was getting old, she drew a shape and coloured it yellow. Before she knew it, it became a bundle of energy that had something to do with the sun, and she realised she was that bundle of energy. She had drawn a self-portrait: a vibrating sparking electrical thing. Also a sun appeared in her sky and, although it had yellow rays, she was also yellow, so everything was ok.


A Drawing Forms Itself (Poem)

An ordinary piece of cardboard
grey and soft,
with impressions of time upon it,
knife marks,
splashes of ink,
blotches of coffee.

Look! There! Is it a face?
A human face? A nose?
A strand of hair falling?
Place a dot of ink here, a smudge there
a slew of white gouache, and it speaks!
Opens its ink mouth, bares its sharp teeth.

It can be anything: a child,
an old man with his lifetime in his eyes,
a murderer, a virgin
the sweet woman from down the road
growing into her power,
the teenager with his penis in his hand.

There is a point that all artists seek
when life is still in the thing,
when it isn’t yet motionless,
isn’t yet stuck in the stasis of completeness.
Will the hand know when to stop?
Will the work continue to speak?

What will it say?



Drawing to TV

Busy day with an old friend. Therefore some quick play in front of the screen. I did these while watching Everyone’s a Critic on (Australian) ABC television. The first episode. It’s quite a gorgeous series about ordinary people engaging with art in Australian Galleries. I did these while they talked about an artwork called The Journey by Judith Wright. She lost a newborn baby and apparently the amazing sculptural work is about that. It is very hard to google this visual artist because of the poet, who I also love, and also her poems about birth though her children lived.

I haven’t drawn with pencils for the longest time. Usually I use pens. But I am really enjoying the ease of creating tone. They are much more forgiving. I always remember Brett Whiteley’s poem on drawing materials. Here is an excerpt about the ubiquitous pencil:

The pencil is the instrument best suited to those
middle-class moments
when one wants to be
quick and daring and precise
but still have the opportunity
(if one blows anything)
to wipe it out . . .
Have you ever seen a
pencil drawing that isn’t safe? 

Well, perhaps these drawings are not too safe?