Thursday, May 28, 2009
Coloured Pencil from Start to Finish--Finished!
Concept, or where it all comes from:
I'll always consider this piece as having been conceived the day of my rather silly misadventure in a boggy spot along Vivian Creek, York Regional forest. Being stuck in the mud was a new experience and somehow it took my brain awhile assimilate the memory. Ideas, thoughts, and feelings leaked out in strange and vivid dreams and then one morning the image popped up behind my eyelids.
One incident, alone, does not shape the art; everything I've ever done, read or thought has relevance. How far back can you go to search for the source of inspiration? To birth, to the twinkle in a young man's eye, choices my grandparents made? Going further back would get me as mired in philosophy as I ever was in the bog so lets not. Suffice to say, all art, any art, is a culmination of the artist's experience and interpretation.
While I don't intellectualize my work (ie. its not a logical construction based language oriented ideas but more less based on hunches and feelings), hours spent picking and poking at the paper (how, that indicates how much I love the actual physical process--not) leaves my brain with plenty of roam time. That means, while working, I start to ruminate on what it all might mean.
Of course, from the beginning, I knew this one had everything to do with the head-waters of the Oak Ridges Moraine, given the incident involved being literally mired in it. Add to that a continuing interest in myths and folklore and a cursory excuse for the subject matter is there. However, while I work, I like to listen to discussions on CBC radio, the more in depth the better, and two of them turned out to be curiously relevant and influential.
Discussion 1: Involved a protest against a proposed dumpsite in Tiny Township, rural Ontario, north of where I live. The short story, is the usual 'dump threatens groundwater'. The slightly longer story being that Tiny Township has some of the purest aquifers in Ontario and they are being drained, not for use, but to make the dumpsite dry.
While listening, I realized that the central figure was not some woodland mermaid creature, but the personification of an aquifer, or groundwater.
Help Stop Dump Site 41
A few days later, another discussion took a darker turn. The subject: the sacred Yamuna River in India, associated with the Goddess that bears its name. In spite of its spiritual status, it has been diverted, constrained, and dumped into that by the time it goes through Delhi it is so laden with urban sewage that is reclassified as a drain. Not even religion, with all its power to create and destroy was is enough to save the goddess from defilement.
While I was almost finished while I heard this story it did make the saturated colours and ornate design so reminiscent of East Indian religious artwork seem more appropriate.
Online Petition to Save the Yamuna River
Now, how does all this folklore, storytelling and environmentalism tie in to a tutorial on coloured pencil? Its my way of saying, art is not a technical exercise but a means of communication. Just as we need time to learn to speak a language and are not born with the knowledge, we need to learn the techniques of a medium in order to communicate, but that is only half the process. The remainder is simply to live, feel, experience, listen and open yourself to world before, during or after you pick up your pencils. Everything you've ever done, thought or felt will flow from your hand to your art. Now go scribble.
Image: Strathmore 300 Series Bristol 14"x11", coloured pencil. This is a heavilly burnished piece but I didn't use the colourless blender and instead used heavy application of choice colours to do the work. Here's some treeholes, a peculiar problem for every landscape artist.