I’ve previously considered the nature of drawing as opposed to painting or printing. I have done all three as university subjects in my ongoing fine art degree and whilst I feel once the lines between them would have been quite clear, in the contemporary university world the lines are much more blurred with increasing overlap. 

For me drawing is mark making. So any mark produced by any means, that wasn’t there before, is a form of drawing. Of course with this wide definition, painting and printmaking are in fact subsets of drawing. Not sure how painting would feel about that :). Traditionally I recognise that most people would associate drawing with more discrete marks, like line and dots, and traditional mediums of pencil and ink, rather than blocks of colour such as used in painting, but really a block of colour is just a fat line, and is certainly a mark. Watercolour seems to fall under the auspices of drawing, despite the fact that it is called watercolour ‘painting’. 

I am especially interested in setting up situations for the creation of serendipitous marks in my drawing, and would like to embrace a wide range of marks, mediums and substrates to achieve the results I look for.

My choice of medium and substrate for Project 3 is dictated by availability as well as the media I would like to experiment with more. I like things that have some degree of unpredictability and organic random marks. I like to work to a ‘rule’ that is guided by my observation of the subject matter. I want to include colour, not just because it is fairly intrinsic to the observation of plants, but because colour is important to the aesthetic I am looking for. 

Research point 1 – Wabi-Sabi

I had already come across the concept of wabi sabi in the past and feel a strong affinity with it. After I saw this reference in the course material I also purchased Leonard Koren’s two little books and have read them both. I have previously been interested in the idea of entropy – the movement of all matter from order to disorder. I have made art works exploring this and looking for beauty in the complexity that develops on the way to degradation and disorder. Part of the wabi sabi concept includes acceptance of the ephemeral and transient nature of the world, finding the beauty in this transition from order to degradation. Embracing the organic aesthetic that evolves from this process. It is part of the reason I have come to textiles in preference to paper or paint. There is a certain resilience in textiles not found in some other mediums, but this is combined with an ability to manipulate the surface, or let time and nature manipulate the surface, so that trace and serendipitous marks can also be more fully explored. 

Wabi sabi is certainly in evidence in my textile collection – especially in regard to the futon cover, which is a heavily repaired piece of cloth, that is both stained and degraded. It was originally a working textile, providing warmth in a hostile environment, but has subsequently been sold as a collectors work of art. It highlights the boro technique of combining and repairing textiles, that was originally a practical technique, but is now more purposely used to create art textiles. 

After reading Koren’s book I thought that rather than being just a narrow aesthetic, wabi sabi felt more like a way of seeing and a way of living. Not dissimilar to practising mindfulness, where you really see what is in front of you, rather than living too much in your head. Wabi sabi aesthetic also often hints at the passage of time, and brings with it that feeling of pleasurable melancholy that I associate with that. 

Detail and definition (1.6)

Some of the earlier works have already looked at detail, but for this section I decided to use 3 colours of sharpie pens and five pieces of square printmaking paper that I had torn for another project, to create a small series of simple drawings of detail from my textile pieces. I have tried to utilise the tendency of the Sharpie to spread and run into the soft paper to create a (somewhat limited) variety of marks. 

Mumu Mike Williams and Robert Fielding exhibition

We were lucky enough to be in Melbourne when an exhibition by Mumu Mike Williams and Robert Fielding was on. These are aboriginal men who currently live and work in the area of Central Australia that we will soon be working in. The works are political works, which is not my preferred option, but the juxtaposition of the mail bag warnings and aboriginal and white history was so appropriate and ironic that it drew me to the works anyway. 

Detail of a work by Mumu Mike Williams, 2017, acrylic paint on canvas mail bag
Robert Fielding has burnt through the thick paper he has used from the bag, creating a wonderful textural surface with a secondary design that is highlighted when it is lit fro the side. I have spoken to Robert in the past and he mentions the layers of meaning, some hidden, that he creates in his work. 

Details of the burn holes in Robert Fielding’s work, 2017, acrylic on paper
Robert Fielding’s work showing the layered imagery, 2017, acrylic on paper

Collage and creases (1.5)

First collage is made from a piece of hand painted paper in my attempt at indigo colour. It was then cut into small kimono shaped pieces. The original plan was to tessellate but that didn’t work well so I moved on to using one edge of the shape to define the line of the whole kimono. I struggled to keep the small shapes glued down so I had to resort to cover the lot with a piece of non woven textile I had with me. It’s red which has nothing directly to do with the kimono, but it was what I had with me and it’s sort of a Japanese colour. It serves to soften the line of the kimono underneath and unify the collage a bit. 

All collages are made from hand painted paper because I’m travelling and didn’t bring a big range of coloured papers. In this collage I have painted a piece of paper leaving one area white, and then torn it into strips and woven it together in a crude representation of the ikat weave of the kimono. More time and thinner strips would have worked better, and I also should have had some strips completely painted to achieve the shape of the weave properly. 

Looking inside the sake bag and seeing the light through the holes was the idea behind this collage. I have painted a light background on shiny paper and then cut holes through another piece of folded paper to emulate the symmetry of the holes found in the bag. I would have like the background glossy paper to shine through the holes more brightly and in retrospect it would have been better to make the contrast between the background and the foreground paper even higher to highlight the holes. I’m guessing that these are things that could be reworked down the track prior to assessment, but at this stage I am battling to get the work done before my first submission. Seems that I don’t have as much time while travelling as I had hoped. Still I am enjoying the work.

A partially shredded piece of paper from a perfume shop in Melbourne forms the background for the final collage. Hand painted and torn patches are applied to the top, in a crude representation of the boro futon cover. I have allowed the patch edges to lift and be rough, as the patches on the futon cover.