Wednesday, 19 December 2012

the counsel of friends

How precious are the wise words of friends. A good friend suggests that one possible cause of the impasse which prevents me from drawing is my habit of choosing to draw on expensive watercolour or printmaking paper which can be spoilt so easily, whereas I am, on occasion, able to scribble quite freely onto scraps of expendable tissue paper, before transcribing the image thus drawn onto the surface of perfect cotton paper. This pertinent insight takes me by surprise, I am grateful and somewhat relieved, astonished that I had not thought of it myself.

Another points out that at present I am directing my creative energies elsewhere, and that perhaps it is not possible to write and draw at the same time; certainly the problems that I am currently attempting to solve are literary and not concerned with visual art, my newly reawakened interest in the possibility of making text drawings not withstanding.

I accept the counsel of both with good grace, aware that the words of both spring from their own experience, and are spoken with love and concern.

Monday, 3 December 2012

the transformative power of making art

After making the tiny drawing of the word 'hopeless', following the intense struggle which took place in attempting to realise it, I feel curiously uplifted, as though a burden has been taken from me. I am conscious of a new lightness in my demeanour, a pleasant sense of having achieved something, however slight it may seem to be, a willingness to experiment further. These gladdening feelings take the stead of the crushing sense of defeat and mediocrity which had come to be my familiar companions. The transformation is subtle, nevertheless, I see no change in the face that stares back at me from the mirror. It is internally that the difference has been wrought, and as yet, it does not show in my eyes, which retain their anxious mien. But a glow has been kindled, albeit inconsistent, susceptible as it is to sudden draughts of despair and lack of faith, and by its fragile light I may find myself once more treading the path that leads from the darkness.


It has been on my mind for some time to attempt to use text visually, that is to make text drawings, thereby effecting a return to the floor text pieces made whilst a student at Glasgow School of Art. The fragment above does not represent a fully realised drawing, rather it functions  as a sketch, and as such is purely experimental. It is tiny, around four inches square, made in wax crayon and graphite pencil on tissue paper, torn from a larger sheet upon which I was scrawling in something of the nature of desperation. The word thus inscribed is 'hopeless', written over and over until it is rendered illegible.

I have chosen to publish the piece because it emerged after a battle, during which I shed tears, cried out and hit myself about the head, and therefore marks a minor breakthrough in terms of my practice, which has been suspended for the past three years.

 For the present  I cannot trust myself to draw, or write, directly on the surface of the drawing paper. Instead, were I to repeat the experiment, and make a perhaps larger, more complex work, I would write in wax crayon upon tissue paper, before turning it over and placing it face down on the drawing paper, then transferring the image by drawing heavily on the reverse with graphite pencil. The image would thus be inversely transcribed, the text appearing as it may in the surface of a mirror. I hesitated before transcribing the above image onto drawing paper; it seems to possess an integrity which I would have destroyed had I done so.

I remember the process of writing upon the floor boards of my studio in the High School for Girls in Glasgow as one of liberation; after an initial trepidation, or shyness, the words began to flow forth. I felt a sense of ease and purpose, I was free to write whatever I wished, to obliterate, writing word upon word, or erase sections of the text. The texts thus came to speak of transmutation and loss, of ecstasy and pain.
I hope that it will be possible for me to proceed with the text drawings, that I may find a path through the mire of self doubt and destruction in which I have become as lost.