So “Burnt Landscapes” will soon come to an end… 😦
Wait – this is good! My project is finally finished!
So if you’d like to come out for the opening at Regent College’s Lookout Gallery (found on the UBC campus), please don’t wait for an invitation. There will be free food (really great food I might add), and a presentation at 7:30 which will include some time to ask questions about the project and the paper.
Hope to see you there!
I’ve been thinking more and more about why I’ve never taken a torch to these drawings… random musing I know. But in the process of making these I have been encouraged by many, many people whose opinion I very much respect, to add actual burning to my drawings – keeping with the theme of iconoclasm I plan to look at in my academic paper, and also keeping with the subject matter of my drawings. I have not done so.
And now I feel quite happy that I didn’t. I stuck to very traditional media, and with THAT media worked out my erasures and “iconoclasmic events.” Setting myself within the art tradition was one good reason not to take a blow torch to my art (fear of toxic chemicals and the church custodian were, if I’m honest, also of great consideration). Another reason, that I discovered in process (funny how that happens), could be to explore the “appearance” of iconoclasm. I have, perhaps dishonestly, made it look as if my work has been burnt – but it hasn’t.
This weekend I had the chance to get away to sunny LA (correction: hazy LA) for an arts conference. The true highlight was getting together for the last time (for a while at least) with some great friends made during my time in Vancouver. So apart from that – and the excellent networking, the fab food and the fascinating speakers – the highlight of my weekend was getting a couple of thoughtful critiques from the resident art faculty. Though photographs (even the best photographs) don’t often do a drawing justice, it was great to give these master artists at least a sketch of my project. I was challenged on a couple points, especially in considering how I plan to communicate what I’m trying to do with this project, and in being willing to apply the same “effacement” of the image to my more abstract and sculptural pieces. Out of these discussions we were able to come up with some good ideas as to how better integrate the sculptural piece. One of my wonderful critics suggested I think about using roofing tar… still thinking about that one. I’m sure the church that’s generously allowed me to set up studio would be a bit concerned!
Asking for critique can be scary. It was a little nerve-racking approaching these talented and experienced artists not knowing what to expect. Especially since art can feel so personal, so connected to one’s own being, critique can make one feel particularly vulnerable. But, if you find the right people – those who won’t just tell you what you want to hear – it’s worth the risk and will make you a better artist in the long run.
Back to the problem of photographing my work – I was able to talk to a designer/computer programer who does 3d digital reproductions of ancient documents at this same conference (The Book of Kells was his most recent project) on how to take better pictures of my drawings – how cool is that?
Now that I’ve gained a little more experience with my materials, I’m staring to feel comfortable to press them a little more. This week I work on some more abstracted compositions – still jumping off from photographs, but feeling more comfortable pushing my textures, making them the star instead of the image.
Last week I was playing catch up. This week I’ve moved beyond fixing mistakes to actually making progress! My second drawing is almost complete and I have been working hard on my found object sculpture and a piece utilizing some of the sticks of driftwood I picked up on the beach. A big question looms regarding the “stick” piece. I had originally planned to paint the sticks with ink just like the larger sculpture, but now I’m not so sure. I really love the warm colours of twigs – I think they compliment my new drawing quite nicely. The only thing is the ink would help is disguising some of the glue peeking out between the twigs… I guess I will wait and see how this develops as I continue drawing.
You all know those days. Days when every step you take is backwards, when weeks of work seem to slip through your fingers, when you question if you have the creativity/talent/drive/sanity to pull it off. Friday was one of those days. I came to realize that the first piece I “completed” was not, in fact, complete. Far from it. It had to be reworked – I had to deaden the colour in order to make it fit with the rest of the show. Deadening the colour was more complicated than I had hoped because the surface of the paper was already heavily worked. So for hours and hours I tried to salvage it without losing the composition… It’s probably not done yet, but its on its way thankfully. The other problem: I trashed the second piece I was working on, had to start with a new piece of paper (not a new cradled panel – thank God). One of those days.
But, after a while at this creative stuff, you just know that those days are always just around the corner. And that eventually you’ll come to appreciate these days because it’s these days that force you to overcome – and art that overcomes, that takes detours, that takes the hard road, is always more worthwhile than the art that comes easy. This isn’t to stay that you’ll never have a “failed product” – you will – I have – but it is to say that failure is key part, a necessary part, of the creative process. The best of us will always be failures.
So thank you Friday, thanks for the hard times.
Here are some befores and afters…no completions yet.