20 October 2014

The comfort of materials

Contemplating this ...
(found on artpropelled; originating here, with more pages shown here)
... my brain whirrs. Pigment on pages of a sketchbook ... gradations, mixtures of paint ... masking tape resist ... perhaps a book that underwent a series of interventions on each page, in no particular order ... the sort of thing a person could do to PLAY ...

Something stops me though from rushing into the studio and plunging into this new project. Well, first I had to look at the rest of Elisabeth Couloigner's work, and that got a bit overwhelming!

My hesitation is about materials. This links with a similar thought that arose in Thursday's sketchbook class, when we used colour, and I didn't venture into using pastels ... because I'm not comfortable with them, don't like what happens when I use them, don't like the bold bright colours. And yet seeing what other people did with pastels ... that inspired me a bit, seeing the overlap of colours when simple (or not-so-simple) lines were used ...

So, you have to be comfortable with materials before you willingly pick them up and "just go". After the recent daily painting project, I'm so much more comfortable with (acrylic) paint and can happily mix and fail and start again to get a desired shade if something needs matching, even though I'm still not sure which shade is necessarily desired when painting "from imagination".

Do you have a "go to" material or tool? I'm comfortable with pen or biro, unfazed by drawing the line "wrong" when working fast - the pen feels like an extension of my eye, rather than something that must tell a recognisable truth to a critical viewer.

And I'm comfortable with a needle and thread, and with colourful fabric to choose from.

But I'm not comfortable - or even excited about - adding a different colour that has to be "thought up", even though I've played about with this for months. Hmm, for the daily painting of the ever-changing stripey picture, I had certain rules, even though they weren't written down... rules about how many colours to use per session (as few as possible), about not having leftover paint, about the shapes that were appearing. Rules, or a method (which is nothing if not implicit rules...) of how to start and what to do next. And an idea of what it will be like when it's "finished".

Play, now ... that has no rules (we are not playing a competitive game or sport). The starting point is vague ... you move a few things around. What happens next at any point is quite possibly random or accidental. "What it looks like" may not matter at any stage, it's about the process of doing, of playing. There is no predefined outcome ... you play till you're played out.

Playing with materials - putting lines or colour or pattern or marks on a scrap of paper or sketchbook page - what a fun thing to do. Remember colouring books? - as children we didn't feel compelled to colour all the pages before moving on to the next book ... we simply left blank the pictures that didn't appeal. (But oh boy, there were "good colourers" and "messy people"... and now we have inner critics...)

Well then ... let's play with one of our "uncomfortable" materials, say for 15 minutes a day for a week. First up for me is - oil pastels.

To end, another of Elisabeth Couloigner's pages from "I'm Searching" -

1 comment:

Sandy said...

Thanks for mentioning Art Propelled. It was one of the blogs I regularly read before I accidentally deleted the list. I just realised I haven't been there for ages (even though she posts in frequently). So, I have been to catch up.

I love the mood of the one at bottom.