18 December 2016

The week began still looking for suitable subject material.
Working on A5 copy paper, first with wax pastel then charcoal, yoga and pilates videos, a mix of 10 – 30 seconds each. The yoga was slow and repetitive, the pilates a bit quick. I had a lot of trouble fitting the figure on the page. The length of upper legs in particular keeps surprising me.
Only a small selection of many, many attempts shown here.

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Next working in a sketching app on my tablet, on a bus trip. Very fast – 10 seconds was common, occasionally more, and various false starts shorter when a person moved or was blocked from view. Again a selection – this turned into a fun game, working very quickly to avoid staring at people, some at the end out of the window (earlier was on the freeway).

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On another trip I played with some of the different pens available in the app. Still having trouble working at a size to fit in the whole figure. I discovered the app lets you move the drawing to create more space, but of course that messes with time. Some of these app sketches were done with my finger, others using a little stylus. I can’t tell the difference.

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I’ve now moved on to Chapter 2 – Seeing contours. It’s blind drawing – very slowly. Only one so far, in HB pencil on A4 copy paper. 30 minutes, my son watching TV.
Lots of repeats – for example his nose. Again trouble fitting on the page – there’s no looking forward, just concentrating at the point where the eye is travelling. It’s light and delicate, satisfying in its way.

Susan Best visualizing feeling: affect and the feminine avant-garde.
Still in the first chapter. I’m nervous of “psycho-babble” (for example earlier this year, Briony Fer On abstract art), but have noted my own attraction to work by women, and my intention of materials and process driven explorations, yet with potential connections to the body and bound to be an expression of my self.

Right from the introduction I’ve been enjoying this book. Best selects as a source “the most useful for my purposes” – and I intend to extract what is useful for my purposes. The emotive work that interests her is “feeling at once spontaneous and obscure” – not the cliched or sentimental, not facile shock. This resonates with me.

Best is interested in the “peculiar entanglement of beholder and work of art” – after all, many of the works she examines could be regarded as minimalist, the artist denying their own expression.

Lots more in my notebook. Hopefully at some point I’ll be able to pull together some threads of particular relevance to me.

Thinking about this reading, this week’s collage work returned more strongly to the formal explorations of John Nixon (27-Nov-2016), adding in the body almost as texture – the anonymity of crowd scenes. The original photos were from a web search, but all in Sydney and places where I might have been (but wasn’t).

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These were all done in one session. This project is achieving objectives, in the sense of working fluently, intuitively. I actually got into that timeless zone, moving from one collage to the next, a range of compositions based on my source material then an additional one quite different, using scraps on the work table.

Not using a critical eye at the moment. That can wait for the end of the series.

Morning journal writing is continuing. If any themes or conclusions (! unlikely) appear I might summarise on this blog, but it’s too new and developing as yet.

Barbara Cleveland: Bodies in time
This project at AGNSW highlighted for me how narrow my understanding and knowledge of art is. I don’t have language or a structure for performance, don’t understand what reanimating a score could mean. My original purpose was to use the video as a source of drawing material, but I haven’t got the speed (yet?).

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December 2016

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