A game plan and some heart work

Crossed small

I have been grouching about my painter’s block – my inability to get going on something free and meaningful (to me at least).

Yesterday I began with two drawings in chalk pastel on good paper. The advantage is that not much is lost if it doesn’t work out – the materials are expensive alright, but relatively, a way less than the commitment of materials in oil or watercolour.

Yesterday I accomplished these two drawings. The game plan? Use up some bits and pieces of chalks that were too small to use for a big project, and; work as freely as possible to obtain fresh original mark making.
I have a continuing theme of hearts in my art work. I’ve done them when I have been out of sorts and when I am elated. Each one is intended to convey some state of emotional spirit.

Of course, I don’t do this without other aesthetic considerations operating in the background. I’m sensitive to finding colours that go together and finding movement in the work that will engage a viewer who is interested in the drawing process.

The first that I produced is up above and the second is here:

Far too pretty small

By the time I had finished the drawing yesterday, I felt the work was without substance. The colours went together alright, but they were a bit saccharine and the image too explicit. In the morning when I looked at it again, I thought it was still too pretty, too sweet, and the drawing lacked any depth of colour or tone. It wasn’t worth keeping, as is, so I thought I would just continue on – writing Far too calm, Far too pretty on it. That was my critical feeling about it, so it was fair game to continue on with some text over the insufficient image.

My internal jury is still out on this piece.

Then I went about cleaning up my little tray of  chalk pastels. It must have been sitting in the sun during the summer. Two cough candies had melted in one section and the whole thing needed cleaning out.  I set aside the pieces of chalk that were viable for a bigger project and took the ends and crumbles to work with.

I started on a different kind of paper. The first was Ingres paper and the second was a bit of Canson’s Mi-teint.  On the half sheet, I took some larger crumbs of red and put them under my thumb, moving them around freely, not trying to obtain a shape. I did this with about three different hues.

Just by the rotational movement there were some marks that could be pulled into heart shape, but I didn’t want to impose that shape. It defeats the purpose of working freely and seeing what comes. Along the way, I was unsatisfied with the lack of tonal contrast and I wanted to cover over any obvious shapes, so I chose a light tone – a pink – to draw wider, more gestural strokes. The result helped give tonal contrast and an added benefit that the marks resulted in a figure-like form that appears to be dancing. Had I tried to draw a dancing figure, it would have been stilted and awkward.  This figure carries a feeling of joy with it and the freedom of the marks gives the drawing a lot of movement.

So for all that verbiage, here’s the image:

Dancing small

On the full size sheet, I started by the same process, using crumbs under my thumb.  It was a large format and demanded more attention to where the marks were going.  I’m afraid this one came out too sweetly too. It’s lacking some rigor, but I thought it good enough to leave as is until I can decide whether or not to add or subtract or cover over.  Unlike the green one which was pallid at this stage, this one has some stand-alone quality. I’m not ready to do anything to it yet.

Joy small

I think I’m not fully happy with it because I’m repeating myself with mark making that I’ve done many times before and the hope of this exercise was to get me out of rut. I distrust work that is too facile.

Then I cleaned out the tray, washed it up and saved the powders and crumbs, whatever colours they were, for another drawing. It turned out to serve me well for three drawings, actually. They are very similar.  I like the mark making in this one. I used all five fingers of both hands to move the crumbs around.

There are parts that are crisp and sharp, others that are smooth and blended. Whatever was left over from the first image was placed onto the next sheet of paper and I recommenced. And so, the same for the third piece.

They aren’t strong enough in themselves but there is a lovely fresh quality to these three; and although I did nothing to control the colours I would get, there are some interesting colour passages. I’m only sorry that I didn’t take the time to go downstairs but instead grabbed the closest paper at hand, some Pacan paper which is like cartidge paper and is not strong, nor it  likely to be acid free. I could find no information on this paper on the Internet.  It’s a great paper for student work and for rough drawings.

heart 12 small heart 13 small

heart 12 small

So that’s it. That’s the fruits of my experimenting. I like this last one the best. Now will I be able to reproduce a feeling like this of freedom in another drawing, what ever the subject may be. I must try it with different colours. The pinks are still just a bit too sweet.

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6 Responses to “A game plan and some heart work”

  1. lesliepaints Says:

    I love your post on exploration Kristin. Doesn’t it just aggravate you when you can’t produce or get excited about something? I like your last one, also, but really am drawn to the one where the figure appeared. I do the same as you when I get in a funk, but don’t decide a form like a heart or anything. I play around with something called intuitive drawing that Jos. A. Smith explains in detail in his “The Pen and Ink Book”. You do as you did and explore mark making until something begins to appear to you. You, then develop that form furthur.He works in ink. I have tried this in several mediums and have loved it.Generally, I’m back to being inspired in a day or two.

  2. lookingforbeauty Says:

    Hey Leslie,
    Thanks for the great reply. I’ll have to try it in inks too. I agree, it gets you going. You are absolutely right about not deciding on a form, like the heart, because it limits the outcome. I guess I’m still not able to let go completely.

    Have you ever seen Riopelle’s series of the geese? He seems to do layer after layer of automatic drawing and then hidden down in the layers are some recognizable forms.
    K

  3. lesliepaints Says:

    Just googled Riopelle geese. Love it! Yes, That is what that Jos. A. Smith was doing.

  4. hiddenamongroots Says:

    The first one and the last 3 are nice. I like the more gestural qualities of the last ones. The heart symbol can be too sentimental, but I think you got these right.

  5. lookingforbeauty Says:

    Hi Hiddenamongroots,
    Thanks for your comments. I agree with your evaluation and I see why you might be attracted to them, having done a visit to your blog.
    Anyone reading through these comment, I suggest that you take a look at
    hiddenamongroots blog. The images are very interesting.
    K

  6. lookingforbeauty Says:

    Leslie,
    I looked up Jos. A Smith. He’s a real head bender. Amazing work, amazing detail, amazing creativity. Some of it is very uncomfortable.
    K

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