30 Days of Drawing, Week 4: playing with Ideas.

In my previous blog, Week 3, I developed a life drawing into something else. The next day I played with it some more, and gave it a name: Adam.  And I realised that most of the time, because I trained as an illustrator, I get an idea first from a book or from out of my head, then turn it into a picture. But Adam evolved from a life drawing. And I’m not sure what I’m trying to say with this drawing, which makes it more exciting – it’s open to the viewer’s interpretation.  I also realised that Adam was drawn on a lopsided piece of baking paper, so when I mounted the drawing on cartridge I tidied up the top, but left the jagged edge of the paper completely undisguised. I like the unfinished nature of the piece.

Adam Final Stage 2

I then felt like a complete break from figurative drawing, so I played with my charcoal and chalk, just as I encourage students to do, doing my best to avoid being conceptual. I turned the drawing around, used my non dominant hand, and kept attacking the paper for an hour or more, until I felt I’d done enough.

I’m really not good at drawing abstracts. I never know when to stop. And I still think I’ve produced something conceptual.


So I decided to marry my abstract with a figurative drawing, in the hope that I’d produce something more complex that was less obviously all about ‘me’. I found a life drawing from the week before that looked suitable, reversed the pose and redrew it, then added it to the abstract. I spent several hours fiddling with the figure, the shadow and the paper that I’d mounted the image onto. Then I put my signature on the abstract, as I was disinclined to ‘own’ the idea of the figure. I leave my audience to decide what this picture is about. I’ve called it ‘Untitled’.

Untitled finalI thoroughly enjoyed doing this drawing. I’m looking forward to doing a series, using my life drawings for inspiration.

The Lobethal Big Draw 30 days project has been a healthy challenge, with a positive outcome. I didn’t draw every day, but I thought about the concept of ‘play’ a lot, so the drawings that I’ve included in the blog and in the exhibition are a result of that thought process. I played not just with the media, but with my own methods and reasons for drawing, and concluded that I have spent too many years focusing on technique, at the expense of following my instinct. It’s never too late to start looking at drawing from a new perspective!

Thanks, Barbara Millward and Belinda Broughton for inviting me to take a long hard look at my drawing practice, and thanks to all the other artists who are contributing to the Big Draw – I’ve already seen some of your work and had some lively discussions about the project, and I look forward to seeing the exhibition and having many more creative conversations!

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