It's nearly 4 weeks since the final session of Large Scale Sketchbook but with so much going on there hasn't been time to report on it and record my thoughts ( tho' I made sure I wrote up my notes in my notebook straight away) . At the end of the session I brought my the sketchbook home , which entailed a taxi from the station it was so heavy. Tomorrow, a couple of artist friends are coming round to view it so I thought it was about time I wrote about it here!
After Week 7, I'd run out of ideas about what I wanted to do with work based on the cast courts , mainly because the subject matter itself didn't inspire. The night before the final session I had a brainwave ( or so I thought....) The lines of stairs and curves of the sculpture in contrast to the surrounding architecture reminded me of the work I'd done on shells a ( mussels and limpets) in the advanced painting course in 2016.
At the time , I concentrated on developing the mussel paintings set in context of surroundings ( influenced by the work of Paul Nash) and hadn't done much with the limpets. I'd been influenced by the 'Circle' exhibition at Margate Turner Contemporary , particularly the pile of black discs by Edmund de Waal, and had drawn and photographed a stack of limpets , delicately balanced and carried out work in Photoshop combining it with prints of the Fleet done during a printmaking course.
I gave Tony a whole lot of photos of my sketches/photos to photocopy to A3 size and while I was waiting, starting several pages in, I assembled a pile of limpets and drew it large scale using charcoal ( which gave interesting marks on the previous page). I then carried out a number of different approaches using photocopies; graphite and rubber; sanguine pen; coloured pencils; and cutting out holes through several layers.
I was enjoying applying what I'd learnt to new material but a lot of what I produced wasn't really working. Luckily at that point it was my turn to discuss my work with Tony. He was a bit surprised I'd discontinued with what I was doing in previous weeks when it had been going so well while applauding the idea of using my own material to try out what I'd learnt from earlier lessons ( "the Ideal Student" !) .
The main reason the shells weren't working as well was because they were on the whole central on the page and retaining identifiable structure of existing images and therefore weren't so exciting. The danger with using material we care about is that you have to work harder as not so inclined to experiment or try things out .
Looking back at the earlier weeks when we'd been working with still life with random objects
and to some extent the Cast Courts where it wouldn't have been my first choice of subject , I was more prepared to experiment, fragment images, as I was looking at the shapes and lines rather than the subject matter. Looking with Tony at previous pages , the most exciting were when I'd left a lot of space , repeated ideas over several pages ( copies of copies of copies) and made good use of the edge of pages rather than placing images centrally.
He made suggestions on extending marks over drawings and copies ( including use of the negative shapes left when cutting out) and putting objects at the edge of the page. Also to be even more radical with my cutting, removing items completely.
This was more like it !
We cleared up early in order to look at everyone' s sketchbook briefly ( although it still took an extra hour - I missed my train and had to get a later one) . Well worth it though - they were so diverse in approach and content considering we'd all begun with the same subject material!
Didn't make notes at the time but these stuck in my mind:
- finely folded/pleated paper ( like tiny steps)
- transparent fabric inserts ( also tracing paper and acetate)
- exploded shapes reassembled, photocopies cut into strips and expanded
- images torn up and collaged back ( in some cases just a few tiny pieces)
- layers of subtle colour under cutouts
- images wrapped around edge of page ( so just see a glimpse)
- extreme cutting ( a fine lace-like network).
I also have a list of what I like in my own sketchbook and ideas for future work.
Finally, as is usual on City Lit courses, there were suggestions about what courses we might want to do next ( printmaking from the images produced was one).
In my case , I'd enrolled and paid for Extended Drawing for Artists and Makers (EDAM) that morning. So a year of experimenting lies ahead!