Wednesday, 20 February 2013

Reflective distance

This is the theory.

The more control you have over your art material, the more time you have to think about what you’re doing when you’re making a mark. The messier your material, then the less time you have to intellectualise, and therefore this is the way to access your emotions and if you like, unconscious imagery. And if you’re using a tool to make the image, like a pen or paintbrush, then the physical distance created between you and the image also contributes to your ability to second guess yourself and analyse what you’re doing. If on the other hand you are touching the art material directly with your hands as in the case with clay work or finger painting, you increase your chance of spontaneous expression.

That’s the theory, anyway

So here is a portrait, one side using the most controllable tool, a fineliner pen. Lots of time to think about what I’m doing there. Neat, clean, graphic. Creating form through suggestion and leaving white space to do the talking. The other side uses a soft pencil. Still an easily controllable tool, but one step removed from the fineliner due to its ability to move a bit quicker and create light and shade.

In recent years I find myself drawn to art materials that allow more reflective distance. Not out of a conscious decision, but rather because I love the look of stark contrast of black ink against crisp white paper with touches of soft watercolour. In the past I was very heavy handed with the oil paint, working quickly and alternating between brushstrokes and finger marks.

When I draw now, I try to create images that have ‘breath’ to them. That is, I don’t want to fill in all the blanks, I don’t feel the need to explain it all in the image. Not sure if the reflective distance theory is being applied with what I do now. But one thing I know is that a pen and small sketchbook is easier to carry around than a canvas and easel.

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