This week I'm working on the drawing pictured below. It measures 16x16", and I'm doing it this size specifically to fit a frame I've already got.
However, as I'm creating it, working on it each day, its making me realise that I much prefer working smaller. I've been pondering on why this is so, and I think there are two main reasons.
The first is that I simply get bored after a certain amount of time working on the same drawing, and as soon as I start feeling bored I've lost interest and just want to hurry up to get it finished as soon as possible, which isn't a good way of working.
The second reason is because I feel I lose the spontaneous, expressive marks when I work larger, as I'm trying to cover more of a bigger pieces of paper.
When I work small (my optimum size appears to be 8x8" or thereabouts) my work is at its best, it's most expressive and I get maximum enjoyment from its creation. They are invariably my most successful paintings, in terms of satisfaction in the creative process. It is probably no coincidence that I always prefer the smaller scaled work of other artists too, and most of the pictures hanging in my home are quite petite.
In a world that often shouts 'bigger is better', I'm gradually finding the courage as a an artist to go against this and make smaller scale art that his true to me and makes me happy!
If you've read this blog before or follow me on social media, you may have noticed that I'm occasionally brave enough to share my own poetry, in particular haiku, which I've had a long standing love of.
So, why do I write haiku poetry?
Because sometimes, despite the oft quoted "I found I could say things with color and shapes that I couldn't say any other way - things I had no words for.'' (Georgia O'Keefe) and 'a picture tells a thousand words', I think sometimes three lines of carefully chosen words just adds a little 'more'. Letters are not more than the scribbled ink lines of my drawings, or less than. They're just different. They exist together to create what is a whole piece of my art.
My poetry usually comes from a drawing I am working on, inspiring words hastily scribbled in a notebook as I work meticulously on an ink drawing. I don't even keep separate pens or sketchbooks any more. My ink pen is the same one I draw and write with and my sketchbook is also my notebook. Both with me nearly every second of every day.
Because, primarily I draw. Writing longer poetry would take up too much of my precious studio time. And I appreciate the traditional link between haiku and the natural world, because it's the natural world that inspires my art, therefore the natural world which inspires my writing. I love the conciseness of haiku, the strict 5-7-5 syllable form(as always, I find a bit of restriction strangely liberating) and the way words have to be chosen and edited with the utmost care. No word is wasted.
The words of poetry come alongside every drawn mark I make on the paper, words breathing life into a drawing and vice versa, inseparable.
I love the simplicity of ink drawing, just beautiful textured handmade paper and black ink.
Because of my gradual visual decline, I increasingly feel the need to make things simple. Pure black ink marks on white paper. Even through the silver spots are expanding and even through the colour blindness test score decreases every year, I can still create. Because when it comes down to it, creating is what my body, mind and soul has to do. My hand makes direct and firm contact with the paper with dark and instinctive marks, the black vividly clear against the stark white, even through silver spots. I stay firmly positive that I can carry on creating. That in itself is a miracle every day.
I read a blog post recent written by artist Sarah Gillespie who had given up colour and oil painting to concentrate on making beautiful monochrome charcoal drawings (see www.sarahgillespie.co.uk). Sarah writes eloquently about how the process of creating had become almost depressing and inhibiting for her as she continually battled through endless colour and equipment choices every time she went into the studio. I can totally relate to this. Working without tone, without colour and with the barest minimum of materials is, strangely, extremely liberating. Focus can be placed on what is essential, and the process becomes deeper, more meditative when it is stripped bare.
Maybe I would have arrived at this point even if I didn't have macular degeneration. I will never know. But that's how I'm rolling now.
It's just me, an ink pen and the paper. Pure simplicity.
I thought I'd share a couple of tree sketches that I've done this week for the Inktober 2019 project.
I've always been fascinated by owls.
They are so rarely seen and I hear them almost as infrequently these days, yet their call is so instantly recognisable, almost magical and haunting.
I also like this old rhyme (unknown author)...
A wise old owl lived in an oak
The more he saw the less he spoke
The less he spoke the more he heard.
Why can't we all be like that wise old bird?
Yesterday, the 3rd October was the third day of Inktober, a month long daily ink drawing challenge, and National Poetry Day, so I felt inspired to combine the two.
I drew this garden Blackbird in my sketchbook...
Then I wrote this haiku in response...
with feathers night black
beady eye glows unblinking
tail cocked proud he sits
I liked the little sketchbook drawing so much that I wanted to create it as a framed piece.
This is the sketch...
It is one of the ancient oaks in the parkland grounds of Croft Castle in Herefordshire, England.
This is the ink drawing, also shown in its new handpainted frame. This piece will be part of a forthcoming solo exhibition I am doing - more on that soon.