As part of my method, I have collaborated with people who go to ArtWorks South Yorkshire. Please visit https://www.artworks-sy.co.uk/ for more information.
Artworks South Yorkshire is a non-for-profit creative arts organisation, inspiring and helping adults with learning disabilities to achieve their potential and develop important life skills through creative workshops and placements.
I have also collaborated with other members of the public outside Artworks. All collaborators who feature, and who’s work I have used in my Studio Methods Illustrated Journal have given their permissions and consent for me to use this material.
In the following journal, I aim to identify my studio methods and present documentation of those methods.
I have analysed my studio practice and identified three main factors that constitute my studio method.
Mark-making is a method which is at the forefront of my creative process. The aesthetics of mixed mediums layered upon one another and the ways in which they react together and are affected by environmental elements is something that fascinates me.
My method for making visual art is a combination of drawing and painting which becomes my vehicle in which to pursue my long love of materiality and process. Exploring mark-making is something I have been obsessed with for years and in retrospect, a vital element to my method and practice as a whole.
From painstakingly measured lines, to forced daily entries - setting rules and parameters for myself and my collaborators forces certain results. I create work through a series of structured elements to take the work away from my direct hand.
COLLABORATION - TO RELINQUISH CONTROL
My need for order often controls and limits my work. My third identified method is an attempt to free myself of this restrictive tendency by handing over control to others and harvesting their techniques and processes to force my work along roads I would not have journeyed alone.
Its difficult for me to settle on one particular way of making drawings and paintings, and I think this is embedded in my love of mark-making and materiality. I can’t be one specific maker of a certain type of work, like a figurative oil painter for example. I guess I am frightened of missing out on something. So I think this is where my desire to create mixed media works, constructed of a number of opposing mediums has developed.
In my work, I am constantly trying new combinations of materials. It is the juxtaposition of these different materials that excites me. I like the questionable and sometimes, seemingly ‘pointless’ grouping of abstract forms. I like the imbalance of contrasting marks and mediums that sit together on a surface.
OILBAR OVER WATERCOLOUR
Over a lined journal page, wash mucky coloured watercolour and leave to dry. Coat with black Oilbar and scratch into it with the sharp corner of a ruler.
SPONGING HEADS AND OTHER SHAPES
Scrub off some nearly dried paint splatters from your canvas board with a sponge and a drop of washing up liquid. It removes poster paint leaving a hazy wash and leaves the outlines of the dried acrylic splatters. Get a friend to draw a shape or head like this in felt tip and then paint into it with a pale wash of acrylic. It leaves a transparent layer to show off the details underneath and the character floats in a pale cloud.
GRAPHITE STICK IN OIL BAR
Cover a journal page in white or pale coloured oil bar and smudge with graphite. Scrawl your thoughts into it while its wet. The oil drags out the deep colour of the graphite.
A WHITE OIL BAR FOR DEPTH
Paste on some white oil bar and then scribe into it with pencil crayon. New grooves sit in front of the earlier grooves and build layers and depth into the flat surface.
A MEDLEY OF IMAGERY AND TEXT
Build a visual journal entry. Sketch figures from life with a smudge of white oil pastel drawn into with mechanical pencil. Over that use soft graphite to create silhouettes. Use notes to describe sounds and conversations, and annotate with bigger text in white Posca pen. Add a pencil crayon horizon line.
MASKING TAPE AS LINE
Measure the subject matter as a flat plan, accurately and to the nearest millimetre. Tape out these measurements and leave the tape on once you have painted in and around the measured lines to reveal some of the process in the finished image. Grating chalk dust over the wet painted surface so it sticks creates a lovely texture.
POSCA PEN THROUGH 'FINO' APP
Use the 'Fino' drawing app to draw clumsy and obscure text snippets, over layered with other drawn annotations and quotes. Colour with Posca pens for big solid bold colour and outline in fine black Posca to get a crisp, graphic finish.
CRISP LINES WITH CAULK SEALANT
Attach timbers to your painting surface to create a straight edge and seal it with sealant. Pour emulsion against the line, and when its started to dry and still tacky, slowly peel off the timber to reveal the marked surface beneath.
PAINTING PEBBLE TYPE SHAPES AGAIN
In a layered surface of graphite scrawled text, rolled emulsion, dripped oil and turps, find a shape and help it to reveal itself. Build its body in oil bar, highlight it's edges with a fine brush of turps and create depth with a graphite stick. Add a few more randomly over the top in simple white acrylic or pale emulsion.
LITTLE PENCIL DETAIL IN OIL PASTEL
Make a quick wash sketch in watercolour and gouache. Then for the good bit. Over the top hold a green oil pastel awkwardly in your 'wrong' hand and quickly scribble some juddering lines. Smudge with white oil pastel and then using a mechanical pencil for a sharp line, draw some playful and misshaped leaves.
SECOND USE JOURNAL PAPERS AND EMULSION
In my work, I am constantly trying new combinations of materials. It is the juxtaposition of these different materials that excites me. I like the questionable and sometimes seemingly ‘pointless’ grouping of abstract forms. I like the imbalance of contrasting marks and mediums that sit together on a surface.
For example in this journal page, there is an awkward agreement going on between the list of quiz answers and the pale emulsion obscuring the text. There is no reason as to why these to elements of this drawing should exist together. There is a delicacy in the faint transparency of the emulsion, that barely reveals the text below and the fact these bands of paint sit on top of the text is totally pointless. It doesn’t tell us anything about the list below.
But I do think it boldly presents itself as a line and a mark of a certain aesthetic that I find beautiful, and I think this is emphasised by the contrast with the text below. I am not sure with this emulsion line alone, you would see quite the same aesthetic qualities of the paint. It also gives us the composition of what we have learned to read as a landscape, that is a surface divided horizontally with some kind of line from one side to the other.
TALKING ABOUT MARK-MAKING
If you will, a spot of ad-lib about my marks.
What is it about the marks I make?
Because I still don't know. I am not sure I ever will.
Working, un-working and re-working a surface with Lisa
By laying down textures, then scraping back and relaying, we can create patina and a history - therefore a passing of time - within the worked surface of the painting.
Drawing a dividing line
Draw a traveling line across a surface by following the outline of objects in a space. Keep your eye on the object, and try not to look at your drawing. For me these lines are routes through the drawing that the viewer's eye can journey along, taking them through the landmarks of the surface. These lines also divide a drawing, acting as a boundary line for the other marks to play off and sit in juxtaposition to.
Why did I start working in a collaborative way?
Using caulk sealant to build layers
Barricading paint in this way and forcing the paint to find an escape makes for a slow but constructive and very solid element of a multi-layered paint surface. The randomness of the paint escaping takes away part of the decision as to where you might lay the paint.
A sharing of surface by contrasting marks
A lovely, bustling conversation of mark making between Craig and I as our marks sit side by side. Their differing features highlight one another's differences.
What I call an 'Environmental Reportage Painting'
Working like this anchors the piece in a place and a time reflected in the materiality of the layers and marks.
Pocket sketchbooks and their marked pages
I always carry a sketchbook in my pocket for collating my daily experiences and experimenting with mark-making. These books act as reportage works and a documentation of time.
'BE MORE PUPPET'
Looking for exciting methods to gather and collect new and interesting ways of making marks is a constant and on-going line of enquiry within my practice.
My 'studio experiment' sparked a thought for making marks using something I have dreamed of making for years - an assemblage of otherwise inanimate objects - a puppet.
Meet the first of my puppets who has helped me with the beginnings of a new way of drawing.
Be More Puppet - ADWA 2019-2020
Letting the work make itself, but with a series of set rules, instructions, or guidelines means I know to a degree what is going to happen, but I am always once removed from making direct decisions.
I am in search of happy accidents, but in learning how a favourable set of circumstances or methods create particular results, these occurrences in the work morph from accidental to purposeful.
'MARK-MAKING RESPONSE DRAWING'
One way in which I use instruction to create work is in my drawing series entitled 'Mark-Making Response Drawing'.
Here, I collaborate with others and use three main steps to construct a drawing of marks.
Follow the 3 Steps below to create your own 'Mark-Making Response Drawing'.
'DRAWING THE MUSIC'
This is best if you can do it with a few people
Get a big sheet of paper
All grab something to draw or paint with
Play the playlist below
Close your eyes
Everyone on the same sheet, draw the feeling of the music listening carefully to the rhythm, tempo, pitch, and the details of the sounds
Keep your eyes closed and continue for a few songs
Change your drawing tool and spin the drawing round to work in a different area of the paper
Close your eyes and draw for a few more songs
Here is an example of a 'Mark-Making Response Drawing' after 'Step One' made by myself and three other people.
'MAKE YOUR MARK'
'RESPOND AND ALTER'
FIND A PARTICULAR SECTION OF THE DRAWING AND RESPOND TO IT
YOU MIGHT DRAW OVER IT, PAINT ROUND OR INTO IT. YOU MIGHT ADD DETAIL NEXT TO IT OR DRAW IN SOME BLANK SPACE
DO THIS FOR A WHILE, THEN SPIN THE DRAWING ROUND AND REPEAT
KEEP RESPONDING TO DIFFERENT PARTS OF THE DRAWING UNTIL THE DRAWING IS FINISHED
TO RELINQUISH CONTROL
I am constantly finding ways of removing myself from being the solo driver of my work.
This has lead to a fascination of other peoples techniques for drawing and mark-making, and how their marks sit on a surface in contrast with mine.
I am excited by the visual aesthetic of a collection of marks from various creators layered together as one image.
In this method I am trying to steal marks from others, but also constantly trying to discover new ways in which I can create marks of my own and break away from certain elements of order in my practice.
A CALL AND RESPONSE, MARK-MAKING CONVERSATION AND PAINTERLY EXCHANGE KIND OF METHOD
In this on going body of work, I have collaborated with members of the public to create paintings made up of a conversation of marks across the canvas surface.
THIS FILM I HAVE MADE IS STREAMED FROM ARTWORKS' OWN YOUTUBE CHANNEL SO OTHER FILMS MAY APPEAR AFTER 'CONVERSASTIONS' WHICH ARE NOT RELEVANT TO MY STUDIO METHODS.
MIXED MEDIA ON CURTAIN MATERIAL AND BOARD
TIM AND JOHNSEY
Part of the 'Conversations' Series. This piece was created over six, three hour sessions. The line dividing this piece in two became a contentious element of the painting as I endeavoured to preserve the mark across the painting whilst Tim's loose marks and aggressive painting with a broom handle regularly washed away the line. The tensions in this can be felt in the finished artwork.
THE MAKING OF - 'CONVERSATIONS'
A huge thank you to all my collaborators who have contributed to this body of work with great effort and enthusiasm. It has been a pleasure working alongside all of you so far, and I can't wait to get back in the studio one day and continue this inspiring and exciting discovery.