Tuesday, March 30, 2010

The piece above is a detail of a larger drawing that I did in water colour a couple of years back. It resulted from an automatic drawing project that I was working on. There was not very much preparation in way of sketches or concept, this drawing was born out of the act of drawing itself. I recently finished an in-class project where I had my students create 30 drawings in 1.5 hours. This idea was inspired by a former instructor of mine during a summer painting program at the School of Visual Arts; however he made his students create 100 works in 4 hours. As an illustrator, my intention is to communicate a story or idea. This can align with article, or appear in the form of an advertisement for example, selling a product or service. Employing metaphor is a very popular way in which illustrators can communicate their concepts in a thought-provoking manner, sometimes we also use narratives to tell the story. I believe through practice and training one can develop and employ this approach to picture-making, much the same as how many people can be taught how to draw. However, there are moments where doing so can feel very formulaic. Although these automatic drawings, these doodles, would probably have next to no use within a commercial art forum, I believe that for me, it is beginning to find it's place alongside my commercial work to help maintain the connection that I have with my craft as an illustrator, and to help inspire my own creative growth. Giving myself an average of 3 minutes to draw or paint something over and over again for up to 4 hours doesn't allow me so much time to think about things. As a result, the kind of work that comes out of me during that period of time is like a stream of consciousness. The shapes that I decide to draw, the colours that I choose to use, the figuration or abstraction that appears, reveals itself in an authentic way because I have no time to question myself. I wonder if this is a good way to build, or to begin to create one's visual vocabulary? I have only done this a few times, and so far this process has indeed inspired a small series of finals (many of which, however, have no connection with each other). Although a body of work hasn't yet developed I'm hoping that if I continue, that somewhere down the line I will look at the work that I have created and realize that the process has resolved and evolved itself over time, through work and repetition. One cannot predict this, I believe it can only be done via experience. It's still such a different way of working for me, and still feels unsettling at times.

It's so easy to fall into a routine, a method of working wherein which one builds a comfortable environment, resting and nesting and existing within a fold of oneself; having one's community define the parameters of one's own movement within it. Speaking personally, because I've existed in this space for a few years now, it's like I've always known it, so why question it? I'm comfortable in this sanctuary that I've created, why raise questions when doing so will only cause confusion and uncertainty?

My eyes open suddenly as if pulled from a deep sleep, the constant pounding of bass and sirens of the music clobber me on the side of my head over and over again and makes its way into the back of my brain. My stomach responds by twitching, sending a message up through my esophagus and then back down again, it's as if my insides are dancing to the music. I roll over onto all fours clawing at anything to help stabilize my balance. Every contact that my hands have with any surface seems to shift. I feel the vibrations of the music on the walls, or is it me who's vibrating and forcing the walls to move? I must be dead. Hell is a strange place, the entrance to it, an underground club. How is it that I've been here so often but never stepped inside until tonight? I try again to push myself to a seated pose onto anything but the floor; standing would be better. It smells rancid, a mixture of smoke, beer, piss and shit. The odor seeps through every pore of my skin, finding entry through my eyes, ears, nails and mouth. There are no voices that call my name through the thickness of the bass, there is no hand reaching from above that will lift me out of this place. I have to get home.

I hear a knocking sound in front of me. I raise my head and try to focus my attention on the point from which the sound is coming.

"You done? There's line out here!"

I suddenly realize that I'm in a tiny bathroom, leaning up against the toilet. I push my hands against the floor, inspiring the small amount of strength that is in each muscle, bone, and tendon to raise me up to standing . I locate the handle and turn the knob. The door unlocks and I step out past a line up of bodies.

I move towards a clearing near the edge of the room, above it is the glowing red exit sign. Hell's egress, I think to myself. I move my attention towards the hallway that is just beyond the sign, but at that moment I feel a firm tug on my wrist. It throws me off balance, but I manage to stay upright.

"Sam." The voice whispers.

It's strange that I can hear his voice so clearly through the cacophony of music.

"Stay." The voice says again.

I look down at my wrist where I feel the pressure of a grip, but see nothing. The exit sign hangs closely in the distance. I look around me to try to find that voice that I heard just a moment ago. The orgy of the blaring music with the faces and dancing bodies blur and mash themselves into each other. I move past the crowd - I have to get home.