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- Bloguanuary 24: A Dream and a Pilgrimage January 24, 2022
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Though comical to look at, I do like the double-ended home-made brush with shuttlecock at one end and paper bag handles at the other. I had this plastic tube in my stash of stuff waiting to become useful. I decided to use it as a handle for a brush using some of my collection of paper bag handles as bristles.
Paper bag handles are made by twisting paper around a wire. This makes for a stronger handle. And the handle can be twisted and bent. And the handle, as the wire is fine, is easy to snip. I decided not to snip the handles, but to leave them as loops.
I’ve had a set of plastic badminton shuttlecocks for years. I can’t remember how I came to possess these, though in times gone by I was a keen badminton player. And I discovered that a shuttlecock base fitted exactly into the other end of the plastic tube. I got two brushes in one.
I like the delicate circles of dots made by the frilly skirt of the shuttlecock.
“A house that has been experienced is not an inert box. Inhabited space transcends geometrical space.”
― Gaston Bachelard, The Poetics of Space
I haven’t had much time for art this week. I was determined yesterday to grab some, were it a mere 15 minutes, to try out my 12-set Derwent’s Inktense watercolour pencils. I’d bought these about five years ago and hadn’t used them.
So here is my 15 minutes of art: my house with the round tower of my local church beyond. There’s some acrylic paint in there too. And tea. I accidentally dipped my paintbrush in my cup of tea. But it was just the shade I needed for the church tower. As I couldn’t then drink the tea, I made myself a fresh cup and continued to use the other on the painting. I think, anyway. It’s entirely possible I ended up using both cups of tea as brush cleaners, as well as drinking he second one. I’m still alive 24 hours later.
Even in just those 15 minutes I’ve picked up on some formal relationships worth pursuing: the vertical tubes and almost-tubes of the (birch) tree in the foregrounde, chimney stack and church tower – Norman in character and with twin narrow romanesque windows. Even the paint runs are tube-ish. Then there’s the triangle in a triangle at the top of the side-of-house facade. The small triangle is an attic window. That roofline is a problem. Getting the angle right might mean a trip up a high ladder with a very big protractor. I’ve tried several times to draw this and haven’t managed to get it right and it’s crucial to the positioning of everything else around it.
Inktense watercolour pencils (you can get pans and sticks as well, by the way) are different to some other watercolour pencils as they dry permanently on the paper which allows for a layering of colours. To be honest, I didn’t know that. I thought they were inks in pencil form when I bought them. My set of 12 colours is a bit limiting, but you can make up your own tins – selections of pencils – at the Derwent site.
I sound like an ad for Derwent. No, Derwent is not paying me for this blog. But I’m going to experiment further with these pencils; and compare them with other watercolour pencils I have. I’ll report back.
“She is too fond of books, and it has turned her brain.” Louisa May Alcott
Limbering up, loosening up much as a dancer or a singer does before a performance, with nothing in mind but a single word. For me this was EXPLORATION. I explored acrylic inks, watercolour inks, graphite pencil, felt tip pens, a couple of the brushes I made last week, kitchen roll.
I was interested in some of the forms that turned up and will be exploring those further. As well as the word exploration and finding sub-words to explore, for after all, you can’t explore without equipment: compass, map (or in the case of terra ingnita, means of making a map), markers, flags, … And their metaphysical equivalents. So, it wasn’t just limbering up; it turned out also to be a mining expedition.
I like it where one colour over another has created a third. Some of the forms are revealing themselves to me as seed pods, seedheads and there are some three-pronged forks. I do do a lot of gardening! One of the forks is clearly a trident, I see. I shall need to dive into some research on all those marine divinities (pardon the pun). And I read that the Hindu God Shiva carries as a weapon a trishula (three-pronged spear); I’ll need to know what that’s all about.
This was only about an hour and a half’s work, while at the same time watching and listening to the accompanying video. I’m going to do this every day I get to do some art from now on, before I do anything else. Fill the well on a daily basis.
Curious. This is a seven-day challenge, with different breadcrumbs in the form of questions to answer, emailed out every day; it’s like a treasure hunt. There’s also a daily video to watch while working. And you write answers to questions around a sketch of a compass. I’m being given my compass. It’s been a long time coming. But at least I’ve some hope now of getting out of the woods, which I haven’t been able to see for the trees.
Do you limber up every day? What’s your practice?
That quote defines why I write. When I started to write this blog, I didn’t know that was why I write. It whets my appetite for mapping to have two (or more) seemingly disparate events occur and to know – and I don’t know how I know – that they are connected. And then, “… the game’s afoot,” to steal a phrase from Henry V – according to Shakespeare, that is. Call it the firing of subconscious synapses if you will, but to call it coincidence and walk on by is a scandalous loss of a mapping opportunity. And we must lose no time in getting back to the source of the river.
This excerpt from Spivet might be going in the direction of explaining the phenomenon:
“The Resilience of Memory
“… I suppose even these torqued moments of import could only disappear if they happened to occur next to the black holes of our lives. And yet the synaptic composition of a memory was such that it could weather the pull of the black hole and reappear months later, just as the image of Benefideo’s circular frames now snagged upon the baleen of my recall as I ate my cheeseburger in Pocatello.”
Like, when it rains showers of frogs?
Why do you write?
I’ve been dying (and dyeing) to hand-make some brushes for a long time.
The drawing – below – is part of an ongoing exploration of the pond in my garden. This was initially for textile work, but since my return to painting this year, I’m also going to be producing some ‘pond’ works in paint. It came to me to place the pond in its environment so with this in mind have been doing some exploratory drawings. And trying out some new tools. These first are line drawings, mapping drawings, looking for objects, their positionings, and the patterns and their energies that describe them.
I was trying out some graphite pencils and acrylic pens.
It’s a long time since I’ve worked in this way, but I’m enjoying the discipline of sitting still for longish periods of time, just looking and being completely absorbed in trying to make marks that represent what I’m seeing.
As you see, there’s the house at the top of the drawing. At the bottom, there’s the pond.
The house looks like a pagoda. I don’t live in a pagoda.
Or do I? This is the second project I’m working on that involves a pond as subject matter. Curiously, the other pond – in France – sits in front of a pagoda. Make what you want of that. I am going to make quite a lot of it.
I’ve blogged about this quite a lot. so feel free to search my site using the word ‘pagoda’.
There’s a lot of pattern in this scene, because of the different types of trees and vegetation. Differentiating between one tree or bush or plant and another I find and have always found quite difficult. Generalities have to be found to express what I would call the differing patterns of energy. I’m not sure generalities is a good word, but it’s okay for now. A pencil, or paintbrush, can be limiting and fail, as a tool, to do this.
There are many other kinds of drawing, of course, which might be better for exploring for instance volume. Or weight. Which I will be considering.
And so I’ve been having a lot of fun making my own brushes, from my stashes of materials awaiting transformation into … something, sometime. These materials have been found, scavenged, beachcombed, swum-snorkelled-dived for, excavated, picked-up on walks, dug-up, cut-off, snipped from, …
I had to try the brushes out as soon as I’d made them. The slideshow above demonstrates a very quick first try-out. I tried them out using black acrylic paint on paper. I hope you will see there is huge potential in hand-made brushes, for finding those identifying generalities needed to express natural forms and their individual patterns. And also as mark-energy-makers in non-representational art.
And each of these brushes is quite the personnage, I think.
Have you made your own brushes? I’d love to see some works made by other artists using handmade brushes.