A little 3 minute video about the role drawing plays in my practice. First in a series of me banging on about drawing. While drawing.
See if you can spot the deliberate art joke.
Oh, and if you want any art before Christmas, you should order now.
Art is everywhere, except it has to pass through a creative mind.
I'm a big fan of found art and accidental drawings. I spotted these beauties in Stokes Croft, which is one of my favourite parts of Bristol for its sheer creative anarchy.
Kirsty Hall: Found Drawing, Aug 2010
This door has been there for months. Originally painted with religious slogans, it's slowly disintegrating to reveal its beautiful cardboard core.
Kirsty Hall: Found Drawing, Aug 2010
Oh how I wish I'd made these delicate drawings in glue.
Kirsty Hall: Found Drawing, Aug 2010
Thoughts? Opinions? Expressions of delight? Leave them below...
I spotted this incredible work on the Dear Ada blog.
I'm not entirely sure how Günther Uecker makes his work but I strongly suspect that it's embossing made with a printing press. However it's done, I absolutely adore it. I would love one of his exquisite white works - not an accolade I give out lightly because I'm fussy about the art on my walls. However, since he has work in the Tate, it's probably fair to say that he's a little out of my price range!
The top picture is definitely my favourite but this image of scattered nails, reminiscent of my beloved pins, comes a very close second. In fact, I just like everything of his that I've seen.
Isn't it fantastic when you see art that just makes your heart swell with happiness - I'm doing the Snoopy Dance here.
You can see more of Uecker's work at the Zimmermann & Heitmann gallery.
Because it's a posh area, there's not much graffiti in Clifton but there is some and it's often more quirky than the brightly-coloured tagging popular in other parts of Bristol.
It's a bit hard to decipher but the text reads "the way is in the heart" - yay, Zen graffiti!
Someone having fun juxtaposing a house shape with this very appropriate sign. Or perhaps it's a warning, with the cross through the house indicating that they're a bad agency to use?
These next two bits of graffiti have been ineffectively painted out, I love the resulting subtleness.
This one reminds me of Jean Dubuffet's art...
...while this one's like faded Arabic writing.
Very Jean Miro.
My favourite shot, I can imagine this as a huge oil painting in a gallery.
It's not really graffiti if the council does it!
The drawings were inspired by The Diary Project drawings but they're done on nice paper instead of envelopes! They come mounted but not framed to keep postage costs down and so that you can choose your own frame. The drawing with the blue ovals is particularly beautiful in real life - it's my personal favourite from this set. You can't see it clearly from the photograph but the blue background of the ovals are covered in tiny circles of white ink.
OK, enough sales talk, I need to put some clothes on, dry my hair and then get on the Manley ferry to go and visit the Art Gallery Of New South Wales and the botanical gardens, which are conveniently located next door to each other.
Starting a drawing can be scary. Drawing on crappy paper (that's a technical term!) can be one way to overcome the fear of the blank page.
When I was first learning to draw, my dad would bring home piles of A3 computer paper from his office for me. It was the large thin folded stuff with perforations down the side. Apparently it sometimes used to spool through the printers and couldn't be re-used - at least that's what he told me!
It was great paper to draw on because there was never any fear of wasting expensive cartridge paper: it was already waste, so it didn't matter if I ruined it. I used to sit in front of the TV drawing actors, newsreaders and the like. Documentaries and interviews were the best because they featured a lot of fairly stationary head shots. For a teenager living out in the country with no access to life classes, it was a surprisingly effective way to practice portraiture and speed drawing.
Drawing the envelopes for The Diary Project was similar - if I messed up an envelope it didn't matter and I felt no guilt about tossing it in the recycling. In fact, I sometimes used to draw on the front and back of a couple of envelopes just to loosen up or to test out new techniques or materials. Now my envelopes are all finished and I want to take what I've learnt into making drawings on 'real' paper with the idea of making a series of drawings that could be sold. Yet even after a year of daily drawing, it's still surprisingly intimidating to sit down in my studio and look at those empty sheets of good paper. Maybe I just need to take a stack of envelopes upstairs to comfort myself with...
Ariana Page Russell is a fine example of an artist really working with what she's got - in her case, a skin condition called dermatographia. Here she explains it in her own words:
My own skin frequently blushes and swells. I have dermatographia, a condition in which one’s immune system exhibits hypersensitivity, via skin, that releases excessive amounts of histamine, causing capillaries to dilate and welts to appear (lasting about thirty minutes) when the skin’s surface is lightly scratched. This allows me to painlessly draw patterns and words on my skin, which I then photograph.
Russell also takes these images one step further creating temporary tattoos and wallpaper from the photographs of her own skin welts.
Isn't this fab. Despite studying and making silver jewellery, I'm not much of a jewellery wearer but I'd make an exception for this. I particularly love that it's made from steel instead of a precious metal, that really adds to the aesthetic for me - the stark black against the white makes me sigh with visual lust. I've been playing around with lots of colour in my new art journal lately but apparently I'm not over my monochrome thing and honestly, I don't want to be - colour fills a certain place in my soul but black and white will always own my heart.
I had already noted the resemblance of Megan's work to my own drawings but I was amused to discover that she also did a smaller series of daily drawings in 2007. Megan also has an interesting blog that's worth a look - apparently she's going to be making a life size sofa out of metal, I look forward to seeing it.
The Decorated Journal by Gwen Diehn is a book that focuses on art journalling.
The book is divided into sections, the first is an extensive exploration of the different materials used in art journalling including paper, pencils, paints, pens, glue and other commonly used materials. This section is, to my mind, the strongest in the book. It contains handy tables that show the advantages and disadvantages of different types of glue, a section on the paint colours you'll need to be able to mix a good palette, lots of information about the different grades of paper, explanations of the properties of various different materials and clear advice on what to buy and why. There's even a page on making your own ink and paint from naturally occurring pigments that you've gathered! I also like the way she emphasises investing in a few well chosen, quality materials rather than getting suckered into buying endless new products that are actually quite limited in scope.
In the second section of the book, Diehn describes different types of journalling. She categorises journals into 7 different types and provides techniques that she thinks are particularly appropriate for each. I wasn't totally convinced by her categories and most of the stuff I objected to occurred in this section.
The third section of the book is called 'Pages In Stages' and Diehn splits the working process into 'starters, middles and toppings'.explores how to work with the different levels of the page through techniques like layering, collage and using text. This is one of the shorter sections in the book since it's basically reprising things that have already been described in earlier sections.
The final section of the book deals with some basic bookbinding - Diehn is a big fan of making your own journals so that you can control the size and type of paper and she demonstrates how to make several simple handmade books plus how to customise existing journals and reuse the covers from old hardback books. I have several other bookbinding books already so there wasn't a whole lot here that was new to me but the information seemed clear and competent and it's obvious that it's something she's passionate about.
Although there is undoubtedly much of value here, this is not a book that I can wholeheartedly recommend. The main problem I had with this book was Diehn's tone, which I found overly lecturing and didactic. It's very clear that she feels there's a right and a wrong way to do things - for example, she assumes that paper buckling is always to be avoided but personally, I've found that buckled paper can be an interesting design element on a journal page rather than a problem.
Sure, it's important to learn 'the correct way' to do things and I can understand her desire for 'good practice' but I also felt she could have recognised that art journalling is an expressive, experimental and free space for the artist, where the rules don't always need to apply. It's not that what she says is necessarily wrong - I agree with many of her opinions - but the way she says them invariably seemed to get my back up. Reading her words made me feel as though I was back at art college again. This isn't surprising since Diehn is a tutor at an art college but I didn't find it at all helpful or inspiring. Since I'm currently trying to unlearn quite a few of those art school conventions, I don't need this approach. I took particular exception to her saying things like "you have to earn the right to draw the details": I think that's a staggeringly unhelpful thing to say to anyone, whatever stage of drawing they're at.
In addition, I wasn't particularly blown away by the journal pages shown; they often seemed to fall into a particular style and I felt there could have been a lot more variety. There also frequently seemed to be a disconnect between the illustrations and the text and it was sometimes hard to work out why a journal page had been selected to show a particular technique or idea.
However, many people might find her 'voice of authority' reassuring and comforting rather than invasive and irritating, as I did. If you want a book that tells you to 'buy this colour' and 'don't do that', then this would be a good book to invest in because, despite my personal reservations, there is a huge amount of good information in here. In particular, if you're new to art or art journalling and want to know about different materials and to be talked through the basics, then this book has a lot to recommend it. I just didn't like the feeling of being talked down to but I'm well aware that this may be my personal hang-up. Certainly the book gets generally positive reviews on Amazon.com and elsewhere.
I borrowed this book from the library and while I'm glad that I've read it because I did learn some interesting new stuff, I was even more glad that I hadn't bought it or added it to my Christmas list because personally I would have been disappointed. That said, I'm sure that many people would find it invaluable but I'd advise getting it from the library or checking it out in a bookshop before you buy to make sure it's right for you.
Sometimes correspondences in your work surprise you. me-jade recently added these two photos of mine as 'favourites' on Flickr.
Although I wasn't conscious of it when I was drawing the envelope, when I saw the two images next to each other, I was struck by how very similar the shapes are.
I've been concentrating on updating The Diary Project blog this week: I'm woefully behind on it and it's getting embarrassing. I've been updating the blog in small chunks because that's all I can manage right now - writing the little musings is getting to be almost impossible. I've pretty much run out of things to say about my work: I didn't know this was possible but apparently it is!
I did an update on Sunday and another one this morning plus I'm about halfway through scanning more than a month's worth of envelopes. I scanned to the end of October yesterday and felt very pleased with myself before realising that hey, we're already half way through November.
Hopefully I'll get another chunk done tomorrow - although frankly, if I never have to write another word about my damn drawings, it'll be way too soon! In the meantime, I'm off to scan envelopes, which is time consuming but thankfully a lot less mentally taxing and I can catch up on podcasts while I'm doing it.