Tuesday, 31 March 2015

Tania Kovats and Drawing Water

I'm currently reading Drawing Water by Tania Kovats. It is the most beautiful book. I was hooked from the moment I saw the delicious cover and read the reviews on the Amazon website. Now I have it, it is such a pleasure to thumb through and it feels so good in the hand.

The book is, at heart, an exploration of the wonder and fascination of the sea and all things connected with it alongside ways of representing it.  As well as providing her own explanations and context, Kovats approaches the subject through extracts from the poems, writing and accounts of a range of other writers.

Perhaps most interesting for me, she illustrates the whole with an unusual mix of carefully and sparingly chosen art works. She includes many of her own abstract works - all lovely. This book was an introduction for me to her subtle work.

Alongside these delights, there are maps and charts, plans and diagrams, and drawings, paintings and installations that range from two lovely watercolour sketches by JWM Turner, through the drawing of the design for the Forth Road Bridge near Edinburgh in Scotland to work by many modern artists that are new to me.

She writes throughout in a most thought-provoking way about the process and purpose of drawing which I am finding particularly interesting. She says that for her, Drawing is a mechanism for exploration as much as a tool of representation.  She explains  I draw to find my way out. Drawing fills the space when I'm not sure what I'm doing. It's ... my search engine. 

It is a book to savour and enjoy in small doses so that each revelation is given full weight and the quirky can be appreciated. I read it two or three pages at a sitting, often in the morning as I sit in bed with my first cup of tea. Then I think about what I've seen and read in idle moments over the course of the day  ... such pleasures ...

...and those words I draw to find my way out ...  now they really are something to think about!


Sunday, 29 March 2015

Mark making or asemic text?

I played the other day with the boundary between unstructured mark making and asemic text (explained here in a previous post) ... if there is one ... and this grid of  small sections was the result.


I took an A2 sheet of cartridge paper, a 2 inch decorator's brush and black acrylic paint and began making large gestural marks suggesting letter forms (W, I and M) and the shapes of bridge structures. I then added some words in a wide black felt tip pen - in particular, I wrote the word communication large.

I then took a cotton bud and made arcing marks in the shape of an open C to suggest the gently curving bridge cables.  The choice of the cotton bud turned out to be a good one as it didn't hold much paint and dried very quickly. It made gentle, dry marks across the page which contrasted well with the thick, firmer brush strokes.

Finally, I placed a 31/2 inch square card window over the sheet of paper and cut out squares that seemed to be most interesting.

 As always tends to happen when I do this kind of exercise, things became increasingly abstract as I worked and I have a small pile of other squares (with very little link to text at all) that I will play with tomorrow.

I'm thinking hard about all this and it's proving unusually difficult to decide on a path, but fortunately I don't have to right now. I have quite a long period of unstructured time that I plan to enjoy and just to see what develops.

Friday, 27 March 2015

Bridge poetry

Browsing today in my small collection of poetry books and online for references to bridges and the things they cross (especially water), I came across a poem by Alice Oswald: Another Westminster Bridge which expressed so vividly so much of what I've been thinking about in my work recently.

Another Westminster Bridge

go and glimpse the lovely inattentive water
discarding the gaze of many a bored street walker
where the weather trespasses into strip-lit offices
through tiny windows into tiny thoughts and authorities

and the soft beseeching tapping of typewriters

take hold of a breath-width instant, stare
at water which is already elsewhere
in a scrapwork of flashes and glittery flutters
and regular waves of apparently motionless motion.

under the teetering structures of administration

where a million shut-away eyes glance once
restlessly at the river’s ruts and glints

count five, then wander swiftly
away over the stone wing-bone of the city.


There are some lovely images here which I'm sure will inform my work ... the lovely inattentive water ...and ... water which is already elsewhere ... in particular.

Especially pleasurable is the fact that, through this searching, I've encountered a fascinating and thought-provoking poet ... more pleasure to be had here, I know.

And to illustrate this post, I've included a small selection of rivers and water in many moods from my archive. First of all is a close-up picture of a calm sea off the coast of Abersoch in North Wales. 


Next is a view on a misty evening in June looking across a grey Lake Garda between Desenzano and Sirmione in northern Italy.


Then, last of all, is the view in glorious sunshine from the footbridge over the Delaware River in Bucks County Pennsylvania that has been so much in my thoughts of late. 



Thursday, 26 March 2015

Asemic text with stitch

Since my last post, I've been experimenting with generating asemic text in stitch on organza. I found this far more difficult than with pens and inks / dyes on paper. It is of necessity slower and so much less spontaneous and this really inhibited the free flow of the lines I was creating.

However, I have a small sample to show which I have placed over some of the pen and ink work that I showed last time. As I stitched, I tried to echo the shapes in both written forms and in recent bridge inspired work with a view to using this technique to interrupt the solidity of some of the bridge structures.







This is very much work in progress ...