A few days ago I shared a sketch I made during a drawing workshop. The sketch was of a bookcase and was drawn ‘blind’, which is to say that I only looked at the subject while drawing, not at the paper. The drawing was completed using a single line, and as luck would have it – the finished work fits nicely into a postcard sized mount.
I enjoyed drawing this and wanted to play with the shape some more, so I traced the outline onto some card using ink this time instead of pencil. Next I added some watercolour and more ink to the picture before mounting it.
I was over in Ohio last week at the 42nd annual state HR conference. It was an excellent trip catching up with old friends, making new ones, and learning from each other. Whilst there I gave a talk on Art for Work’s Sake, and two more on collaboration. At the end of each session I gave away a copy of Austin Kleon’s book, Steal Like An Artist. I give this book away often, so often I’ve lost count of the number of copies I have bought and passed on. This time – I decided to add a little something of my own to the mix, so I included a small water colour and pen sketch with each book.
I painted some water colour onto wet card and let them dry overnight. Then I drew on some iconic London related imagery, added the London Calling call sign, and my signature. All in all I guess each one took me about 45 minutes to make, the blue one slightly longer. I think I will repeat this experiment with future book giveaways, I enjoy being able to include something personal, something handmade.
I visited the Matisse Cutouts with a friend again recently, I think I’ve been to see the exhibition seven times so far. I love the scale of the later works, and the simplicity and adaptability of the whole cutout approach fascinates me. When I think about how some of my work projects evolve – I wonder how you could apply some cutout principles to them? Keep it simple, the option to position and reposition stuff as the ideas form, building and developing, iterating and improvising.
My friend is in the process of changing jobs, and as we walked around the exhibition and talked of work and the art we were seeing, part of our conversation was about knowing when to start something new, and knowing when something is finished.
I often carry a small supply of card and markers around with me, and once we’d seen the exhibition and gone our separate ways, these ideas of starting and finishing continued to bounce around in my head. Over the coming days, in snatched moments between meetings, two small pictures began to form – first in my head, and then on paper.
These two cutouts are an attempt to represent the cycle of beginnings and endings. I have mixed feelings about working with cutouts. It takes me a long time to make something that looks incredibly simple and basic. This is quite a childish method I suppose, and acknowledging that somehow makes pressing the publish button on these recent cutout pieces, feel awkward. Picasso said it took him ‘four years to learn to paint like Raphael – and forever to learn to paint like a child’, and whilst I’m not even aiming at Raphael like standards, maybe I just need to get over myself and be more comfortable with this kind of work.