Thursday, May 01, 2008

Stages of Creation: Part 2

Step 2: Growing Stage

After the idea or inspiration for a painting begins to take more solid form and substance in my mind, I can begin sketching and working out the composition. Here the previous research and meditation have its greatest influence as the image begins to appear on paper.

I usually make several drawings, some will be simple line drawings, others will be value studies. I will play around with compositional elements as well. I use many different pencils for doing the drawing and value studies. I use tracing paper to trace over my drawing and then use the tracing to reposition the drawing. That way I can experiment more freely with the composition and save time from having to redraw the entire thing from scratch. The rubbing alcohol is used to fix the graphite on the tracing paper so it doesn't smudge all over the paper when I am transferring the image. I use the colored pencils for tracing so I know what part of the image I have already traced. For example, in this drawing I have the main goose in the foreground and two other geese in the background, one swimming, one flying. I can trace my drawing, then transfer it to a new composition, moving the flying goose higher or lower to create a stronger composition.

Often, when I am working on the drawing, I lose awareness of time and my surroundings. When that happens, it is only when I step away from my desk to stretch or refresh my tea that I notice fully what I have been working on. I may decide to do some refinement at this point, or perhaps follow up with some further research. Occasionally symbols or images appear in the drawing that correlate with a deeper meaning from what I had originally intended. This happened recently with my drawing for the painting Boann: Transformation of a Goddess. After several hours working in the drawing, I stepped away and noticed that I had drawn a fish. I did some further research and found out about the powerful connection between Boann and the salmon. The information was very likely in my mind from previous research, but it was stored somewhere in my subconscious memory, because I wasn't aware of it. The trance-effect of the drawing process tends to bring the subconscious material out onto the paper.

The other valuable tools I use are erasers. I use the white nylon eraser for getting rid of large areas completely. The kneaded eraser (that knobby grey item) is used to lighten areas without erasing the pencil completely. The electric eraser (the thick pen-like object) is one of the most fantastic inventions! I use this as another drawing tool, erasing areas to shape and give form and depth to the drawing. The power of the eraser lets me erase fine areas all the way to the white of the paper. Sometimes drawing is more about subtracting pencil marks, more than making marks!

The tissues are for smudging the pencil on the paper to create more gray tones I also use the tissues for applying the alcohol to the tissue paper.

You can see some field guides and some photos for some quick references, in this case, to make sure I get such things as the number of leaves on a blackberry branch or the pattern of the goose feathers correct. Even though I am working with myth and folklore, I like to have some aspects rooted in reality. I would prefer to have most of my information come from direct observation, but unfortunately, until I can become a full-time artist, I often have to rely on other sources like these.

And lastly, my faithful cup of tea! By this time, I am beginning to move away from the black teas, into black tea blends and oolongs. Soon, I will be breaking out the greens and whites.

During this step, I might take breaks and, weather permitting, go for walks in the park. I usually bring my camera and take pictures of things that inspire me, or catch my eye. If I have time, I might bring my sketchbook and do some quick observational drawings. Usually, however, the walk is more about stepping back from the drawing process. I might need to clear my mind or settle my energy. This part of the process tends to raise my energy and I find that once I get up from my chair, I feel a bit antsy and hypersensitive. Walking outside helps to ground me once more.

Once I get a feeling that the drawing is ready, it is time to move on to the next step: The Cultivation Stage.



Helena said...

DoAn, I like the way your work area has grown a little untidy. I see that creeping clutter manifesting around my work areas too. Im enjoying reading about your processing, in some ways similar to mine, yet very different. Your self discipline in planning and staying with the original concept makes me want to begin a carefully choreographed painting. I feel it simmering in the back of my mind right now and am looking forward to begining the first pencil.

Antony Galbraith said...

Oh how exciting! I hope that you enjoy the process.

Even though I do a lot pre-planning with my work, I think there is still a huge amount of discovery while I create. I believe, that is what helps to keep my work alive, not only for myself, but for others to experience.

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