An artist can be seduced by new materials. It can be so intoxicating that you forget what you are trying to do. I mentioned in a previous post about being a Methodology Artist… In textile works I have over the last couple of years only allowed myself to use the fabric that is contained by a wooden tray on my desk. Curiously, however much of this fabric I use, the quantity doesn’t seem to get less… Anyway… the reason for the self-imposed restriction was an extension of my self-imposed restriction on buying new fabric. This was an ethical decision, we waste too much fabric and most of it ends up in landfill. It was also a restriction of palette that stopped me getting distracted by the shiny and new. Old fabric sits better with my ideas and themes.
restriction… rules… method…
I love using colour, and I think I use it well. But restricting myself to one particular pencil and one particular sort of paper has allowed exploration of the genre. I talked also of learning a new language. As with new language one aims for fluency. With this paper and this pencil (Daler-Rowney Mixed Media paper and a Faber Castell Jumbo 8B pencil if you’re interested) I felt increasingly in control. I knew how they worked together. I used the texture of the paper to enhance the form and textures of what I drew. A synergy of idea and the material that is really quite pleasing.
But you can’t find something pleasing and just stay there can you? You have to push it a bit. Now I am quite lazy really, and will happily go on in my comfort zone until pushed. Luckily I have those around me who will question and push. A simple question can lead you on…
So… back to the seduction. Instead of relying on the texture of the paper, It was asked “What if you affected the texture of the paper yourself…?”
hmmm… so now, in addition to the 8B, I have a 6H. This carves into the paper almost. I have spent a couple of days working things out, getting to know it. I could possibly draw 6H patterns forever, then draw over with the 8B… oh its a happy thing to do and behold! But drawing pretty patterns isn’t getting me anywhere. So now I have to work out whether it can add to anything. I have an aversion to art that is just about cleverness with materials, Style Over Substance if you like… the terrible end point of being seduced by material beauty. (Opinions stated here are those of the artist). Meaning is sucked out.
I return then to my sketch book and read back over my blog posts about what I was getting from the drawing that I wasn’t getting from the textile. I remind myself of my quest for the language to express those relationships. I go over my self-imposed rules of engagement and decide – or try to – which are no longer serving me.
The textiles are interesting still. They hold the relationships, they have a history. I can show links and connections. But I think they got stuck at that… the drawings could push at those boundaries if I went beyond stitch, beyond human and beyond the figurative… somewhere between that and the pretty patterns lies a fluency to strive for.
I have in my head this glorious Eureka moment in which I will understand colour, form, meaning and one momentous piece of work will emerge, people will gasp in admiration and I can die happy.
Never going to happen.