To be continued...
I have always been a fan of a Monty-Pythonesque way to interpret an answer to a question by means of dancing. Here is a little visual metaphor of the way I draw :-) I see my work as dancing on paper. I like it to flow and take a life of its own. Drawing and movement both pour out of music, and back into each other. The love triangle of art, music and dance is where I live when I create.
To be continued...
Good time of the day to you!
Last time I was talking about how important it is for me to set up space for creative process as well as "tune myself". Today I am going to talk about what I draw. If you are a doer of things and would like to share your process, please do so in comments. I am always happy to hear from my readers!
So once I am "tuned" and enveloped in the desire to create, with all the materials conveniently within my reach and the space around clean and tidy (besides my desk which has everything I need on it), I take the pencil and start drawing. I draw a lot for myself, as well as for other people, and it's a joy to feel affinity with the theme and the person commissioning me. I have been quite lucky to be given lots of freedom with what I create, but I am going to talk about the work I do for my own pleasure.
A lot of artists and illustrators are asked whether they plan their work or have a complete vision of it in their head before they start. My answer to that is - no: I start with just a feeling or an idea. I think to myself, "What a lovely idea it is! :-) It needs to take shape, it needs to get out of my head! Let's see how the feeling inside me looks like drawn on paper!"
I use the subconscious, I never THINK about the drawing. My goal has never been to make people think - there are enough great resources for that in the world, like books and, well, life. My goal is for my work to evoke a feeling or memory, and offer the space for the viewer to get lost a little, maybe question their emotions. We are often more aware of thinking than of feeling something and my ultimate goal is for my work to be a trigger for feelings to open up. I find it absolutely amazing when a painting can make you cry or smile. Why am I talking about all this? Because this is my basis for creation. I pour my emotions into the work. I never think that I need to draw a certain composition, say, a woman with wings and a moon behind her, first comes a strong feeling that pushes me to take the pencil and draw whatever it is. I still end up depicting faces a lot, and of course, eyes. What else can trigger emotions, if not a look, a stare; what else can create contact, if not looking into someone's eyes and so I give many eyes to my drawings. Eyes not only see, they speak and hear. If I feel sadness or happiness or elation or unexplained longing... I draw all these things out of me and sometimes I may be surprised by the way the complete drawing looks like. But it is me from the inside. Of course my head is full of visuals and they are similar to the things I draw but I like the spontaneity of the process, rather than meticulously copying an existing image from my head.
I probably go on and on about it, but here it is again: my favourite quote by Samuel Beckett, "Dance first, think later." And this is my motto in art. I just draw. Or rather, I just passionately love drawing. The process of completing a piece is very much like a spontaneous dance for me. I want to dance on paper. I don't think much of structure, plan or rules in art, and maybe that's because I am self-taught and rely heavily on intuition and the above-mentioned passion, that I find to be a key ingredient in work. I feel free in creating and I believe this is how it should be. Spontaneous improvisation! Setting your spirit free!
I start a piece with the face, as it is usually my focal point, that I draw with pencil and maybe add some loosely drawn elements. And then the fun starts. I pick up my pen (usually Staedtler, I blog about art materials here) and outline it, filling the drawing with all the patterns and stars and eyes and all other things that can't wait to get out of me through the pen. I "go with the flow" and that process is very enjoyable and often personal because it gives time to switch off and meditate. I use a lot of inner resources for my drawings. And on this emotional note, I will finish this post!
To be continued...
Hello dear reader,
I will be sharing with you several stages of my work in this and future posts. I hope they will be both useful and entertaining. Today is all about starting. Let's go!
It is a truth universally acknowledged, that everything starts at the beginning ;-) A blank piece of paper is the most inspiring thing in the world for me. It is the combination of fearful excitement, the courage of facing it, an opportunity for my character and patience to get tested in the process, the challenge of completing the work, and the choice of which idea to use - all of this brings me a certain blissful feeling. The ideas are always there and if I think they are not good or fun, I make up new ones and choose from them. Artist's block is something I have, thankfully, never experienced. I really like to keep my mind fit by constantly breeding ideas and doing imagination exercises - stretching it, making it stronger; it is a habit I don't notice. The examples of exercises can be numerous: from listening to a song and getting so lost in it that the mind creates visuals and consequently a video is played in your head to making up an illustrated short-story on the spot in your head. I visualise almost everything I listen to. Do you? Music has always been a very strong influence, doctor, friend, cheerleader, etc. And I have always felt and admired the shape of songs, and their melodies, their movements and colours. That's how I started actually: by drawing (i.e. creating mess on paper) my favourite songs when I was a child of 4 or 5. Sometimes I would just paint or use markers as most children do, without a clear purpose but in tune with the beat and the rhythm, intuitively choosing colours for every song. In short, I let my hand dance. And I felt very free in those moments, aware of my movements and how they were somehow connected to what I was feeling. I wonder if other artists and illustrators do this and I also wonder whether this technique can be used as a relaxation therapy.
Having developed this musical dependency while drawing, I just carried on like that. Although, of course, I am now more in control of my pen and pencil, I still let myself go a bit, because it's impossible not to. It's either the music playing in my room or the music within, my own singing or the music of nature, but I need to have a soundtrack before I begin and while I work.
I find a very strong connection between the melody and the visual representation of emotion or mood. I cannot imagine not visualising music and I cannot imagine the art I like without some sort of sound coming from it. What I have always wanted was for those who see my drawings, to feel the music, even if it is a badly-tuned ukulele song played by me haha! Apparently, David Bowie once said that he wanted his music to sound like his favourite art. And that's (almost) exactly what I want: my drawings to sound like my favourite music, or maybe, even better, form a tune of their own. But imagine how different museums would feel if music were played there.
Music is such a great traveller - it journeys through your ears into your head, your heart, makes your fingers strum the guitar, makes your feet move, makes your whole body vibrate and respond to it and that's the experience that I find similar in nature to looking at my favourite art - I want to move and dance and it travels inside my body, gives me shivers. That's the goal I am working on.
So my process almost always starts with setting up a musical environment, even if it is just a melody in my head. It is a warm-up that helps create my own space to inhabit while I work. It is important to feel safe and for the space to feel familiar, wherever you are. I think of it as tuning yourself before drawing. Do you do anything similar? I know it can be difficult to transition between the world of work, chores, worry, etc to the world of illustrating and art-making. Music and visualising help me dive into work. Of course, setting up your work space is also very important and it can be easily done within minutes. I am a big believer in tidy environments and their correlation with success and achievements, but the space inside your head has to be clear as well, otherwise it won't work - however tidy your space is. Music clears my mind of unnecessary emotional debris and substitutes them with visual images that prepare me for work.
To be continued...
Thank you for reading Part 1 of 256.
Haha! Got you!
There will be fewer posts of course... maybe 243