Monday, May 28, 2012

The Art of Desperation

Today's EDM offering is the result of several hopelessly awful attempts. I tried a wash and ink drawing of the hanging basket I just put up, and the houses opposite in the background, and it was so stiff and unyielding that I figured hm, wrong day to try this.

You can't make better art by simply trying harder. Practice does improve skills, and you need skills to make art. But practice doesn't make art. You do need to allow for what you're up for today, and sometimes it means you picked a wrong approach and need to go back.

So I painted a coat of white monotype ink over the drawing, which made it very faint, went back in and picked up sparks of blue -- a lot of lobelia in the basket -- and voila! an even worse thing. So I damped another sheet, and took a try at a monotype off the original, since that often gives you a surprisingly improved view. But it didn't. Oh.

Finally I realized what I was doing wrong was taking too observatory an approach. So I tore off the paper jackets of a few Caran d'ache crayons, and went to another sheet of paper, drew a field of flowers using the sides of the crayons, curving and moving them, like using charcoal in a way.

And I found that this was probably what I shoulda bin doin all along. But there are days when it's not clear, and you just have to try various things until you either get fed up and go away and knit, or get a result you feel better about. This drawing was done on slightly damp Arches hotpress, to get a slightly gentler outline here and there.

I've often thought that when you switch around artforms as much as I do, that the approach needed by one can be a bit hostile to the next. I've been doing some very small knitting (a hoodie for a Dolliver, in alpaca yarn, on number 2 dpns, fyi) and since knitting is so linear and constructed, my mind probably got over a little too much into the prescriptive mode, hence the difficulty in loosening up to draw and paint. I remember that playing Atari many years ago when my son was young, had a terrific effect on my accuracy in doing the miniature needlepoint I did in those days, for custom works, probably because both called on the same kind of eye hand, limited decision horizon, type of thinking.

You'll notice that, though the handling of this piece is very loose, it is composed with left leaning areas and right leaning areas, to draw your eye in, and triangular areas to rest the eye on, and a foreground, middle ground and far distance. This isn't something I planned as I went, but I expect it's a hangover from the linear knitting time.


  1. I like the loose curving lines, and the colors are really lovely. Those little bits of red just pop out.

  2. I sense happiness in these! :)

  3. I'm glad your hard worked endeavours paid off in the end. But sometimes you have to go "down the wrong path" to eventually find your way back.

  4. It looks like you finally let go and had some fun. I like the results.

    Number 2 needles are pretty small. I use #1's or 2's for socks for myself and #5's for two strands of knitting worsted for my son's slipper socks. I'm a loose knitter so have to go small.


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