Having said that I intended to explore and disect my own creative process, I realize that so far I haven’t actually talked about my own art at all. So here goes….
A few weeks ago I decided to doodle in my sketchbook. I used different colored fine-tipped markers. As usual I was bouncing around the idea of things being “unfixed”, impermanent and ungraspable. But mostly, I was just doodling, enjoying using shapes and lines.
Then the following week Sammy and I went to Buckeye Hot Springs in the Eastern Sierras, and I took my sketchbook remembering that I felt quite inspired by the weird algae and sulphur deposits last time we went.
So, once we’d relaxed for a while, I pulled out my sketchbook and pens and started to absorb what was around me, finding shapes, lines, colors, textures that expressed my response to the environment. While I was busily scribbling, editing and manipulating my ideas, water from the spring spattered onto the drawing I had done a week earlier – it had fallen out of my sketchbook and was lying on a nearby rock.
Initially, when I saw what had happened, my response was along the lines of, “aw crap”.
Not that I was particularly proud of that drawing. I was more concerned that it was now wet and would have to be babied back to the car instead of just jammed into my sketchbook.
Then I heard a little voice say “Well, maybe this is an opportunity to go off the beaten path”. The sketch was no longer “mine” and this was freeing. Chaos and nature had conspired to take me down a different path, and they left their watery trail all over my work. So, I decided to follow.
Here’s what happened:
And from there a whole world of possibilities opened up. I spent the rest of the day drenching drawings in the sulphuric water. Most of what I did I hated. Here’s a piece I wasn’t very excited about because it didn’t actually look like Sammy, but I certainly learned a lot about the potential for using this technique with portraits (i.e. don’t overdo it on the water smudging, and let the water carry the ink where it will, rather than trying to control it).
My point? Well, I suppose, that part of my process requires harnessing factors that are beyond my control. Much like in science, some of the greatest discoveries are made by accident. Not that I’m claiming to be on a par with Alexander Fleming, or anything. Just, leaps are made when your mind is forced in a different direction other than the one it habitually goes down. Then comes the hard part – trying to recreate and use your discovery to make great art. Still working on that bit.