So, my grand plan to take a day off work didn’t work… they tricked me into five days.
This Friday I told them I’m taking an art day a week so as the days come in I’m being very clear as I’m leading up to my 4 days. It’s hard when you’re freelance (as more and more people are these days… and not just ‘creatives’) as if you don’t work you don’t get paid… no sick pay… no holiday pay) and you never know when the next job will come. But at the moment I could work 7 days a week as the primary education system is creaking and however nice the money what’s the point of paying off your debts and mortgage if you carry on the same work pattern that made you feel ill?!
Teaching pays the bills but progresses me not one jot.
Acting I can do into my 80’s – art the same… I’ve probably got 5 or six years teaching at this pace left in me so as the road runs out choices have to be made.
On my ‘Moving Forward’ day I can market my acting and have a 6 hour art day… and not be tired.
Experimental Drawing by Robert Kaupelis
I’ve enjoyed dipping into this enormously.
It’s basically a learning to draw book with added zing. This week I’ve picked up:
- The importance of both the drawing implement and the surface on which to apply it… ‘The work you produce is intimately related to the materials you have available because it is through particular materials that your drawing/thinking processes are formulated.’
This made me think that all drawing is mixed media… the mark maker and the surface which is marked. Charcoal on newspaper would be significantly different than charcoal on coloured pastel paper or chip wrapping.
Before starting this course I’d naively assumed drawing was pencil on paper. And a little bit of charcoal and some pen and ink sketching.
The first six illustrations from the book illustrate the variety of mediums well:
- Michelangelo Madonna and Child (Black chalk on paper?) – Italian – around 1564 – believed to be his last drawing and filled with tender emotion.
- Robert Henri Woman Kneeling on a chair – USA – (Drybrush on paper?) – early 1900’s? – newspaper background – ordinary subject – brazen image – painterly technique.
- Amedeo Modigliani Carytid – Italian – (Crayon on paper) – early 1900’s? – non ‘realistic’ – overlapping forms, hard, stylised, encased in ‘stone’.
- Franz Kline Study for clock face c 1951 – USA – (Gouache on telephone book page) – abstraction, calligraphic brushstrokes, negative spaces.
- Man Ray Drawing, 1915 – USA – (Charcoal on paper?) – anthropomorphic based on human forms… breaking away from academic training and influenced by Duchamp.
- Luca Cambiaso Hercules (Pen and ink on paper?) – Italian – around 1570 – super confident line, contour drawing, body as geometric solids, very slight variation line in width and character.
So these six beautiful drawings are all VERY different both to the eye and emotionally, all use different combinations of materials and are all recognised works of art.
If you add in colour in drawing… and any number of found materials then the combinations of mark maker and surface are vast.
My conclusion is that there are different tools in art for different jobs just like there are different tools in a carpenters chest. For the carpenter the choice is obvious… he would use a saw to cut wood (though different saws for different sizes and types of materials) and a drill to make a hole.
For the artist the choice is not so obvious… you could draw a person using any mark maker… charcoal, watercolour, pen and ink… on any surface… paper, board, metal. But your materials and their qualities will affect how you draw. Some are more suited to a delicate tender image, others to bold emotional ones.
Then, having made your choice the qualities of the materials and how they work together will affect how your vision is translated into your drawing.
I’ve not progressed enough to make informed choices about materials but it seems to me that an artist might become a specialist in a few materials? Might choose one ‘mixed media’ over another for a particular project? And the qualities of those materials will further affect how he thinks about and formulates his image… the materials might almost have their own ‘one’ or ‘voice’ ?
In short what I thought was a simple choice between charcoal, pencil and ink on paper is an almost infinite choice of mark makers and surfaces.