Expressive lines and marks

CALM, ANGER, JOY  and CONFUSION – In this exercise the image starts with a single word as a starting point.

Drawing exercise 1 (7) Confusion_ 31 July 2015_ 84.1 x 59.4 cm

Thoughts while painting CONFUSION: no meaning, no direction, no lines that go anywhere, no shapes that mean anything, go one way, change, go another way, smudge for no reason, blur for no reason, cross over other shapes, make different marks, don’t hold any thought, just move the line or shape forward, upward, downward, anywhere but premeditated, grinding, noise, no sense, midges, add midges, they add to the confusion. The ink drawing was even more confusing as I tried to use a dip pen which did not want to make any mark at all, I gave up and changed to a stick.

Research Point: I recently fell into a room of Rothko paintings by accident; it was darkened with twenty or more people sitting quietly, contemplating – immediately, a sense of doom so powerful engulfed me that I felt utterly unable to stay for even one second. Outside I read: Rothko intended for the viewer to feel trapped in the room with the paintings, as though there were no way out. And we are asked ‘whether art is capable of expressing emotions’?

We are asked further ‘what makes art expressive, is it the image, the medium, the act of drawing, all the above, more?’

There is a joke: what is the most important organ of the body – some would say the brain – the joke answers: the part that expels that which would be poisonous to the body if it were not expelled. Imagine if the lips could decide, they would want no part of the latter. Or the right elbow; it does not even know about the right hand.

I would say that though art is not a body, it is like a body. Being expressive is one of the body’s functions. In a body they say the eyes are expressive – windows to the soul – but a gentle caress can be so too. In art equally the image can lead the viewer. But sometimes, as in the Rothko paintings for me, it is just a feeling: the history of the person, their neurological framework and a visual stimulus all contributing to a particular sensation.

The course draws our attention to Julie Brixey-Williams’ drawing loctationotation in which 52 dancers all over Great Britain performed one pirouette at exactly 11:30 on the 9th June 2001 creating a series of hieroglyphs mapping time and location. It is interesting that different movements evoke different feelings in us, and this seems to explore the notion that the residue of that movement, the shadows it creates might increase our understanding of it. Is that what visual art is? Just the shadow of the movement of the painter with his instrument? I don’t think so. I don’t think a shadow would have the power over me that art does. I would add further that in my opinion the artist and their instrument is as much a part of the ‘body’ of art, as is their artwork (if I may be so bold).

Drawing exercise 2  (2) Anger_ 2 August 2015_ 84.1 x 59.4 cm

Thoughts about ANGER: loud, loud, loud, strong lines, big, imposing, solid shapes, 3D. Rules, rules dominate, rules have the answers. Stop driving so fast, don’t jump the queue, don’t cut in front of me, eat sugar, smile.

Drawing exercise 2 (3) Joy_ 4 August 2015_ 84.1 x 59.4 cm

Thoughts about JOY: splashing, happy, childhood – connecting with a carefree time – don’t think rules, joy is freedom, and can be messy. Soft shapes and smudgy without too much force, just enthusiasm. Joy is finding, not searching. Follow the shapes, see what happens.

Drawing exercise 2 (4) Calm_ 8 August 2015_ 84.1 x 59.4 cm

Thoughts on CALM: soft colours, gentle, easy lines, slow movement; calm is not empty, it has shapes, like a desert or newly fallen snow; there is stillness and strength at the same time.