Wednesday, February 19, 2020

Making my mark

A week ago I went to an art workshop where the artist used a technique to get us into painting through using our imagination. She gave us a blank piece of A3 paper and a piece of charcoal and our first exercise was to follow her instructions without trying to make sense of what we drew on the paper. 

It was all about mark making. Nothing else. For ten minutes she said things like 'make circular marks, make straight bold marks, make thin marks that go off the edge of the paper, make pale marks, dark thick marks, shade in an area' etc, etc. At the end of this exercise we laid out our papers on the floor and each of us had to say what we saw in the marks we'd made, and also what we saw in the other students' work. She then told us to take our paper home and develop it into a painting. I was excited about this. This is my random mark making and  what I brought home:

I liked it. there was a lot of movement in it, and I could see a field of wild flowers, or a hedgerow, as a theme for an abstract painting. I was definitely going to get out some colours and work on it! I laid it carefully on the sofa in my study where I could see it every time I went in there to write or to email. I left my pile of art materials on the tiny coffee table in there - some bought especially for the exercise with big expectations for my new creative endeavour. 

I've been very busy since then with other things, although I saw the paper full of marks every time I went in that room, and I'm in and out all day. I'd look at it and think - Yes, it does look promising, but whatever I do to it, even if I'm successful in painting an OK composition, it's not going to be good enough or attractive enough for me to want it on the wall, not like that photo of the dawn up our lane with the golden reflections of the sun in the puddles.

Then I would recall what the artist said to us - Don't let fear of spoiling it put you off. Get stuck in!

Five days after the art workshop the untidiness of my room was getting me down, and so was the accusing paper full of inspiring charcoal marks. And I recalled my bold plans to make a collage of Calgary Bay last May when I got back from Mull. I had fabrics assembled and arranged, and I was trying to work out how to attach the seaweed and shells I'd brought home. Then the publication of Even When They Know You took precedence and the 'collage' was rolled up and put away in the sewing drawer, and the seaweed and other beach finds were laid under the study shelves in a protective bag where they still are today.

Yesterday I put away the paints and brushes and the promising piece of paper. I've admitted to myself that no matter how much I enjoy going to art workshops, whether printing, painting or collage, I simply do not have the motivation to make myself work on those projects at home, because there are so many other things I want to do. 

Currently I have an engrossing writing project, a jumper I've almost finished knitting and a new one to start, a patchwork cot quilt to design and make for Mary's first grandchild expected in the summer, my sax to play, my bike to ride, and today in the post my sweet pea seed order is arriving. My life is full. And whereas I can play my sax simply for my own enjoyment with no interest in public exposure, I am not willing to commit time and diminishing energy to sustained work on art, just for the sake of doing it. The materials won't be wasted, though. Dave and I both have the need for them from time to time for occasional random projects - including, for my part, other future art workshops that look too enticing to miss!

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