Monday, October 23, 2017

Ink practice

Today's hour was about process and experience, rather than output.  Though in fact I did get a couple of bits of work that I can go on and use elsewhere, but that's a bonus.  The picture is just a fraction of my practice sheets for today.

I ground my ink, and tried all four pens, and several brushes, in turns, on rice paper, tracing paper, very nice glassy surface that, and newsprint.  Just to get practice in how all the tools feel and work in my hand.  I'm getting bolder with the pens now that I have a feel for how they flex.  And it's good to swop out with brushes, just change the pressure as practice in being sensitive to the tools. Interesting that the more delicate lines and shapes are done with the pens, not with the brushes.

And, whatever I do, honesty keeps breaking through, this is all a bit of displacement activity.  I got a note this morning asking me to set up the book exhibit Wednesday of next week. I was think there were weeks more before November,but noooo.  So now I have to do the bit I don't like at all, labeling, planning, writing a blurb. 
Interesting how my ink practice was better when it was an escape from something else..this fits in with that Messy book I was talking about

where sometimes good stuff comes when you're supposed to be doing something else.  I can definitely attest to that.

I wonder if Tolstoy was supposed to be painting baseboards when he was writing War and Peace. Or if George Eliot was supposed to be pruning the roses when Middlemarch happened.. always like to put myself in good company.  And I'll bet Leonardo was thinking about a new traction engine design while he was painting The Virgin of the Rocks.  

Art is not about planning and executing and concentrating on One Thing Till It's Done.  Hard for beginners to accept, really, since the virtue of hard work is instilled in us at an early age, and it doesn't always apply in this context.

On the subject of Messy, he does make some good points, rather drowned in a sea of detail about workplaces, one of them being that it's good to be in a situation, or to find a situation, in which you come across unexpected ideas or objects.  Your mind tends to carom off them into great new work. 

Long ago, friend Stefi and I wanted to see if we could make a couple of gadgets we had work together to make art. I had the Gocco printer, she had a thing that if I remember correctly, transformed slides into something else.  

Anyway, we never did solve that question, but in the course of trying, came up with a couple of years' worth of really good collaborative art as Unified Field.  Got into some very good juried venues, exhibited together, sold pieces, generally did very well, without having actually planned any of it.  We developed a terrific, and very unusual, art partnership.  Very different artists, but the work Unified did was different from either of us.  Very mystical, really.   Nobody directed the other, we just decided on what materials, and went from there.  All done by intuition.

After a few years we were ready to move on with our own work, which had been going on all along, but we both needed to give it more attention, and we were both teaching, so Unified became a nice bit of history.  Tim Harford would probably say told ya!


  1. I think we're taught, wrongly, that you by god finish what you start before you go on to something else. And clean UP in here, my lord what a mess--

    But you're right, it's when we move on to something else the brain is still engaged in what you were doing, and perhaps relaxes into a different mode--

  2. Very interesting concept! I do find it hard to stay focused on one thing and I tend to get ideas popping into to my head when I least expect it.


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