Profligacy of line

I like fiddly detail. I am in awe of, for example, comic-book artists who can consistently and expressively create characters with deceptively few strokes of the pen (here’s one whose work is very different from mine). It’s something I’ve tried but then.. hmm, a bit of extra detail here, and here, and so on… I give myself up to the minutiae, and I do so gladly. Sometimes this means realism, other times abstraction.

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I’ll come back to realism in a future post (I have an exhibition coming up in November). Instead I want to look at abstraction. I was mightily inspired by the freedom and ideas of Eloise Rose and Bettina Fung at John Hansard’s Play Ground earlier this year.

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This nudged me to revisit an idea I had a while back where I would take a bus journey and record its bumps and sways by letting the pen move as freely as I could. I’ve included a couple of these in the first slideshow on this page and you’ll see they are very different although they are from the same route. This is because for each journey I apply a different set of rules. For example, ‘slowly draw lines back and forth, up and down the page but let the pen be shifted’. There is also some control in that if I rest my forearm on the page, the recorded movements are smaller than if I don’t, as my arm/lever can swing from the shoulder. However, beyond this I try to add as little constraint as I can. Then once the journey is complete, I shade/ink the shapes that are produced to highlight the pattern of recorded motion. In this sense it is similar to producing a vinyl LP, and can be seen as an analogue approach in an often digital world. There is more development and exploration that can be done of course. These are essential solo drawings on A4 paper and thus still a fairly traditional form of art. I am looking at ways of making this idea more expansive, in terms of both physical size and through possibilities of performance and collaboration. Therefore I was intringued by Bettina Fung’s recent Communion piece at Draw to Perform 3. I find myself drawn in (ha ha) by the forms emerging from the complex mass of lines, plus the final piece exhibited in a light-box in a gallery window is wonderfully deep and luminous – as I said when I saw it, ‘transcendent’.