Language and Method: Finding out the swear words and where the loo is…

In my last post about the audio sketchbook I talked about establishing a methodology…

I have found over the last ten years or so that I’m a methodology sort of artist. I make rules for myself, decide what is important about what I’m trying to say, then try to fix a way of saying that, and explore the new language that arises. It doesn’t seem to matter if I’m working with textiles and garments and stitching; recording, songwriting and performing; or most recently these drawings. The exploration and play force new associations.

The frustration over the lack of a studio led to me not looking back at what I’d drawn before. I’d do a few drawings, then put them into a folder, then do a few more. This resulted in definite development of certain favourite motifs. I would repeat that ogee-leaf shape and try to make it not look like a leaf so I ended up with a selection of sedimentary-rock-pea-pod-vaginas… nice.

My latest few drawings are not in ink, and they have no colour. I am somewhat irritated by the inherent messiness of the 8B pencil. But when I do manage to keep it crisp I am satisfied with the results. The ink/colour drawings were becoming occasionally stylised and cartoon like, my lines lazy. So the fact I am having to work harder to get at what I want is a good thing.

But yet again I have my rules. It has to be 8B. I’ve tried various others, but they just don’t quite do the job I want. 7B isn’t dense or soft enough. 9B is just unmanageable and very bad language ensues! I have a pen shaped rubber which I am only allowed to use to clean the paper, not to erase the drawing.

I am establishing a vocabulary.

This morning I have got out all the drawings. Right from the beginning, including the ones that appeared in my sketchbook as original textile project ideas. I soon discovered they held something that could not be expressed in stitch. So I pressed on…

It appears the drawings fall into seven categories that have evolved organically… appropriately.

each series teaches me more. It’s like the child acquiring language: the most important words come first. Subtleties, nuance, syntax and good grammar follow. A sense of humour and a little weirdness grow out of fluency. I am not fluent in whatever language this is, and I certainly don’t know what it is I’m trying to say yet. But I’m aiming at weird and funny maybe?

But I think I’m at the point where I can order a good meal, a beer, find out where the loo is….

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