Saturday, 5 January 2013

Getting visual


If I made an uneven surface and gouged and scratched it, roughed it up, scraped it into distress, then poured ink to race through these riverbeds as I tilt the page, flat areas would pool and flood. I'd let the pigment fade back before rinsing it off like rain runs across plains, rinse some of the colour away to form ridges and dams of dark, let the stain sit and soak in. I can watch it ooze towards the edges and slop onto the floor like thick rain.

What's the heaviest paper I have?
Is it up to such treatment?
Only one way to find out.

I find some thick watercolour paper. I hate the rectangle pages, so I tear the edges off, resort to help from the bread knife, find they now remind me of land edged by coves and cliffs and reefs and a"big island" shape surrounded by a scattering of outcrops, like the last touches of land before it gives up to the vastness of the sea. So, I try to ignore all of that and find the screwdriver and a gouge and get busy, try not to look too close just yet.

A little while later, I find myself looking at imaginary islands, diagrams like hand-drawn maps, reminders of colour plates in Treasure Island, reminders of things real, and as my mind is longing for freedom, it finds itself harking back to that beach in Western Scotland, the track off the mountains in the Sierra Nevada that stumbles into a waterfall, animal tracks across sand, ancient field and boundary lines caught in shots from space, a cliff in Pembrokeshire where I sat out the afternoon watching dolphins and a waves rushing across shallows.

Which is all very well, except I wanted to work with the accidental, wanted a bit of an adventure, wanted to get a bit abstract.

No surprise that I spent so long wrestling with a surface that I didn't get to dip the brush into the ink. The paper is spread across the kitchen table, gets moved for meals then brought back again. It will attract a little pile of half-done things that will sit together through January. I guess it's been so long since I picked up a brush that this serves me right. Maybe I should work in the dark for a while and just let rip for a few pages with no regard for what it might look like? Maybe I should go back to something a bit more concrete like setting up a still life and approaching it as an experimental drawing project?

Anyone have any tips on how to push through this phase and come out the other side?