I stayed behind after work against my better judgement, to have a few drinks with my friend, who I had planned an evening in with.
During the first week of the sketch ban, I’d left my sketchbook at work – out of sight out of mind, or so I thought. Somehow, the book ended up out and surrounded by a group of rowdy stockbrokers pouring over each page.
[THETA: I wonder if any of the Freshers in here feel as lost and isolated as I felt sitting in the café at Chichester University].
Noticing myself narrating internally but not onto paper, I pulled out the Moleskine and pen. I instantly felt uneasy. Unsure of what to do and irritated at having to put extra thought into what I was putting down onto paper while my peers surrounded me, requiring a portion of my attention, I couldn’t handle it. I threw the book. How thinly was I obligated to spread myself? I threw the pen too.
Instant relief and anger; why was this such an effort- A mission?
Sitting in my usual environment, listening to the musicians at the Mulberry Tree Sunday Folk Session.
Tonight, there are two differences.
1- I’ve just got back from Ireland.
2- I don’t have a sketchbook with me.
I’ve been attending this session fortnightly for almost a year, and it has provided a platform for public sketching, allowing me to push my own boundaries - testing new mediums, such as painting with beer, and giving me the opportunity to sketch people that are seemingly unfazed - so absorbed in their own creativity. This is the first time I’ve been here without a sketchbook. Since I first came here, I’ve helped to build a group of sketchers, ranging from 2-6 each session, complimenting the 10-20 musicians that attend each time.
However at this session, I was neither musician or sketcher, I was an outsider. The first time I have felt that way here. Two of the sketchers that regularly attend, have been encouraged by myself, having come from either no or little experience of public drawing. I found this a strange place to be emotionally - acting as art mentor each week, to then remove myself from the practice, like letting students go at the end of a course.
Talking to another sketcher here - I told him about my month sketch ban. After an hour of processing the notion, he told me that my not drawing is making him uncomfortable. I found this flattering and sad at the same time, I love being part of this artistic unit, and to pull away is a strange concept.
At the same time, I’m noticing more and less - more in the sense that I’m normally hidden behind a book, so details such as the flow of the music and conversations amongst my friends are overlooked - something I hadn’t noticed before.
Less in the respect of general detail - when drawing I don’t have to think about what I’m doing, seeing is instinctive.
However while trying to force myself to write, it’s then more of a mission to get myself to focus. I know for a fact that this was once the same with drawing.
The Experiment: No sketching for 1 month.
Why? To document how it makes me think and feel.
What will I gain?
While not drawing, I will focus on writing.
Hoping that my writing skills will improve and become more natural, and instinctive to me in the same way that drawing is.
On my return from Ireland - with another completed sketchbook and a fresh perspective, I put a considerable amount of thought into the next instalment. What would/ could I gain from choosing another black hard bound A4 landscape sketchbook? Volume 7 of my SketchBusker Chronicles is the first that I have been completely happy with - how can I possibly bring something new to the next if I don’t change anything? Do I need to change anything?
It is clear that the emphasis of my practice is on drawing, which is why I feel it is necessary to focus on another means of creative expression.
Like an itch that I can’t seem to scratch, I find myself constantly thinking about drawing - things, people, places.
While drawing, I am constantly describing in my head, that which I see before me. Like a continuous descriptive narrative, there are two aspects of this. One side of this is observational, for example
"His warm and tender sun kissed, olive tinted skin throbbed beneath the tips of my fingers.
His taste buds protruded from the soft, moist surface of his tongue, declaring their presence like spilt sugar granules, undissolved on the outer layer of a warm dessert… “
These words pulsed through my mind while just sitting next to someone - I am constantly writing in my mind.
The other aspect of my writing is reflection, which is where my blog comes in. Again descriptive, however instead of wanting or needing to extract details from the moment, I cogitate and speculate.
Having not gone with my standard sketchbook format, I instead bought a small portrait Moleskine sketchbook.
Its taken two years and seven sketchbooks to find my preferred base ingredients for sketching.
Standing in paper chase, I instinctively wanted to head to the back of the shop, where my usual book awaits me. Instead, I wandered to the rack of Moleskines, my heart racing - feeling like a smoker about to ‘quit’.
The majority of what I was feeling was confusion. Why would I consider putting myself through this?
In A Level Philosophy 8 years ago, the class was asked to write a paragraph describing a pencil. I got more out of that lesson than I did of two years GCSE English.
I instinctively knew what to write, how to articulate this tube of lead, surrounded by compressed wood that was coated in a film of lacquered paint. I cannot now do justice to the wording that I once used, nor do I need to - the response from my teacher confirmed my growing confidence as a cocky teenage creative.
Of course once again I write this on the bus journey to my sisters.
While passing fields and fields of various shades of green, yellow and brown I automatically switch from town habitant to country girl. I instinctively begin to see through my ‘third eye’ - the best way I can describe not just looking, but seeing. Every single colour jumps out at me, teasing me, while every contrasting texture on the landscape around me chops and changes with each field edge, road and hedge line. And it occurs to me, how many other people can switch into this at their leisure? While these thoughts race around my head, I try to think of an analogy to fit this. When a photographer looks through a camera lens, he focuses on an area of interest, while the surrounding scene lays in a fog of ‘bokeh’. I wonder, if this is how it feels to not actually SEE, but to peer at a minuscule amount of detail, while the world slowly passes in a hazy existence? The third eye that I refer to, is something we all have access to, and it seems that so many are unaware of it. I partly feel saddened for these people, while also feeling liberated and privileged to be so tuned in myself.
Recently I’ve found myself wanting to write about a number of things, and not knowing whether I should; will I offend anyone? Is it appropriate? Where is the fine line between what is and should be kept private and not?
The more I open my eyes, the more I find myself wanting to describe and articulate almost everything, in the same way that I have this impulse to sketch everything.
I no longer hold back on what I should sketch, and feel liberated as a result. Should writing be the same?
I feel the need to describe, every detail that I notice and experience…
… The way my lips instantly warm when yours touch mine, the way your stubble brushes against my chin, like toast being scraped against my skin…
… The way your eyes relax when you look at me, the second before a kiss, the single line upon your forehead when your looking down, and then the small indent between your eyebrows that changes colour with the sun, left untanned and white…
…the way certain parts of your skin feel particularly soft, the indent of the nape of your neck when shaved, the edge of your jaw line as it meets your lobes…
… The way you hold my legs, as your chin rests in that place… Your nostrils blowing hot air onto me…. That first bright eyed smile upon waking, letting me know it’s going to be another amazing day… The tiny flec in your right eye, that sits in a deep pool of burnt sienna… The ever so slight slope of your nose, and the way my fingertip feels when it explores the tiny hairs along your ear lobe…
Giggling… And giggling again… Suddenly the world distorts, brighter, lighter, stretched… Another giggle… “I think it’s working”… The television suddenly makes no sense… Her face brings another eruption of laughter, then reciprocated… Why are her eyes so big? They aren’t her eyes?
An amazing thought! I begin to say out loud, wait, where did it go? My goodness doesn’t his skin feel amazing… More giggles… Another amazing though lost… What’s that sensation? Hunger! Melon… Oh my, the melon. Ice cold and soft on my tongue, filling every inch of my senses… Another giggle, who’s holding the melon? Is that my hand? I’d better have a drink…. But who’s holding the glass??? That’s not my hand… Don’t drop the glass… Another amazing thought!!! My goodness, I can’t seem to let the words escape my mouth… My tongue is alive, and my mouth is numb… More giggles… The drink…. The edges of my tongue are cold, the centre of my tongue, warm and sensual… His skin…. More giggles… More amazing thoughts!! Brush my teeth… The mint! The cold…. Amazing… Bed… Oh my goodness his skin… His lips, the stubble on his face… His shoulders… Tingling…. Am I dreaming? Am I having sex? It feels so good. Relax…. Am I dreaming? Am I having sex?? So relaxed… Why is the bed wet? Did I dream? Was his stubbly face there? So so relaxed… Oh dear I must have wet the bed… Towel!
… Burning plastic… In my mouth! Oh god not a migraine, please no. Ol factory aura you can fuck off. I need to be sick. My heads in the toilet, a brown mess leaves my face, burning plastic exiting my mouth, more, and more. I can’t see… Where are my glasses…. Did I aim properly? Flush. Mouthwash….
… That smile… Burnt sienna eyes, slowly open, the smile fills me as our lips meet. What a night….
I intend to research and discover all types of creative’s; artists, musicians, poets and writers who draw inspiration from being in the moment. I hope that this source of information will help me to understand my own practice and reasoning behind it, thus assisting in development of my work.
Generally what I find most interesting is where the individual seeks and draws inspiration from, thus creating a motive for their outlet. I find myself most fulfilled and inspired by nature, and being in the midst of it, however I find I can only output work when in a social scenario; this intrigues me. I want to discover why this is the way I tick, is this true of any other creative person, if so what can I learn from this?
The continuation of observational drawing, using my sketchbook in situ will then be influenced by my study and may develop or evolve over time. What will not change is my practice of having a sketchbook on my person, with the intention of documenting the moment. What will change is that I will document other creative’s I come into contact with through the means of my blog; my creative peers.
“In all these cases and more the openness and ambiguity of language has offered artists the means to provoke and suggest, urge and instruct, compelling the viewer or rather, the reader to explore realms beyond the physical presence of an object in a gallery.” Tate, 2014.
So much of what I write and say is dependent on context- the context of what is happening in the moment.
Text doesn’t put the art in context, but puts the moment in context, but the art is the moment.
I find this difficult to describe and dictate, because I live in the moment waiting to be captured and capture, I can manipulate the moment by adding text that is not relevant.
The text and the sketch are the moment that I’m living in and experiencing – impossible to capture them in one piece – means its something that’s living, breathing and captures real life moments because it needs to be explained and discussed with the viewer.
Falling in love with the captured moment - documenting each moment that I fall in love with through word or sketch – my muse is the moment. By looking at the work and motives of photographer Henri Cartier Bresson, I hope to develop an understanding of my own motives. “It is an illusion that photos are made with the camera… they are made with the eye, heart and head.” Cartier-Bresson, H.
Relationship between images and text - does it matter if the context of the content is the same?
Am I using the text as narrative, instruction or statement? I will research the ‘enigmatic marriage of text and image’. Lubbock, T (2009) in the work of Ed Ruscha to inform my own practice.
Painting the pages based on where I am: In a pub – beer or wine, in a coffee shop, tea or coffee. Why? Does this affect the content – in what way? Is it important? What am I trying to say?
I’d like to begin documenting the contact between viewers and myself during situ – comments made – overheard and direct. Often the fuel for my drawings, I find the reactions and responses of people entertaining and often encouraging.
I intend to create a record of what happens to my sketchbooks on completion, some pages end up being exhibited, some are purchased, I will observe and document. How does the journey of each book make me feel?
Over the past few months, I’ve learnt to say yes to the right people and circumstances and equally no with the rest. Thus, I have experienced some brilliant places and people.
Last week I joined a group of people on a “Poetree” walk in Offton Middle wood. Amongst some that I knew and some that I didn’t, it soon became clear that we were all going to get on, and were all there for the same reason - the connection. After a miles walk along the road and field edges, we finally reached the wood. A woodland verse was handed to me to be read, which I did without question. Not wanting to waste a moment, i fell into the beautiful greenery unfolding before me, it’s roots connecting to mine as I entered. The rush, no words can describe. Filling each of my chakras, first my heart punched with a burst of adrenaline, next my stomach, butterflies slowly waking and spreading their wings, and finally, my head… Filling with every sense running through me, overflowing to the point of dizziness, my arm reaches out to the nearest tree, as I steady myself, and I smile.
On Sunday, by invitation I attended a step dancing entertainment afternoon… I had no idea what I had agreed to, however on arrival it became clear what direction to afternoon would take. A marquee set in the beer garden, we entered the ‘Worlingworth Swan’ for hydration before settling in front of the small stage set up inside the tent. Seeing the wooden beams inside the pub, and the furrowed brows of the flat capped chaps as they detected strangers, I knew I was going to have fun here.
Soon the dancing began, and after a while of studying the faces of those watching, I decided to sit outside to sketch the exterior of the pub. Around me I could feel the eyes piercing into me like lasers from every angle, and I smiled to myself. The performance I was creating intrigued these people more than what was happening inside the marquee, totally absorbed in what I was doing, and yet completely aware of everything happening around me… Of course the first brave enough to “come and have a peep” were a few children, completely in awe of what I was doing. Soon followed a mum, a Spanish woman named Goretti. Full of questions and interest, I explained to her that once sketched, I would paint with Guinness, to create a sepia wash. Often a raised eyebrow returned at this statement, instead I was welcomed with a glowing face of wonder and intrigue. After giving Goretti a card of my details, I continued working on the drawing, feeling content to have connected with another while working.
My favoured place to write, in particular blog posts, is on the bus to my sisters. For one hour and ten minutes, I fill what would be empty travelling time, with thoughts and words. A rural journey between Ipswich and Eye, and Eye and Ipswich. Now on the second part of the journey, I’m on my way home from spending time with my sister, niece and nephew. However today, my sister was also looking after her friends little girl. I can safely say that the past few hours have been the best form of contraception… Listening to this child screech, question, criticise, I did my best to not let this ruin my time with my precious family.
Whenever I venture out to this part of the county, something inside me alters, I feel a longing for the countryside; almost homesick, but in a sentimentally pleasant way.
While typing this on the bus, there are 7 people scattered around me. I have headphones in so to absorb what I am doing. 1 of 3 men behind me is talking particularly loudly to a woman closer to the front of the bus than the back, and is therefore interrupting everybody else on the bus. I wonder what in these peoples minds leads them believe that this is how to behave socially?
For the past 2 weeks I have been thinking about a 500 word essay that I am required to write to mark the beginning of a new module at uni. A “learning agreement”, stating what I intend to do for the next 6 months, the journey I intend to take and how I intend to get there. In the context of this blog, writing comes completely naturally, however when I am told to write something, blank. I’ve scribbled odd notes onto scraps of paper, however I struggle to form these into structured sentences. After 20 years in education you’d think it’d be more natural now?!
Alas, for the rest of this pleasant and oddly intrusive bus journey, I will attempt to write 500 words of what and why.
Since I last wrote on here, I’ve moved house. For the first time in a few years, I’ve started to create a “home”, something I didn’t contemplate myself doing again for a while. I’ve made holes in the walls to hang photographs, paintings and things that have generally taken my fancy over time but have never been formally displayed. I’ve unpacked the majority of my clothes, of course out of habit some bags are still hiding beneath my bed. My kitchen cupboard is full of food, complimenting my equally full fridge. These are such simple things that so many people take for granted, however having felt the need and necessity of living out of a bag for so long, I must say this is quite a novelty. The notion of watching tv on a Friday night - unheard of! I’ve worked in the pub trade since I was 16, and have worked the majority of those Fridays over the years. I’ve had Friday nights free (from work) since I started the Dove in October of last year, however have always managed to fill every spare second of free time. I don’t intend to sit in watching the box on my Friday evenings, however it is a novelty knowing the option is there at my discretion.
2 days ago, I finished my sketchbook; Volume 6 (since completing my BA, June 2012). Each time, I regain the odd familiarity of marginal emptiness - satisfied having completed another book, slightly melancholic having become so attached to said book, and excited about starting the next. Each time, I carry with me a blank sketchbook for 2 or 3 days while i become accustomed to its presence. Of course, the new book is sitting in my bag next to me as I type. On my usual bus journey to visit family, the empty time travelling I once decided to recycle into blogging time. Alas, here we are. I was hoping to begin my first page today, however I appear to be the only person aboard.
The title of this blog post, is a carefully constructed series of words, attempting to describe not only the ways in which I attempt to illustrate faces and people, but how these faces are illustrations in themselves. I’ve wanted to articulate this for a while, and after a conversation with a poet at work, this is what we managed to come up with. It perfectly says everything that a drawing cannot.