I have a sense that things have shifted. I feel my first set of tutor feedback has really liberated me. Having had a week off ‘work’ has also allowed me to focus entirely on my studies. I am left wondering how wonderful it would be to spend all day, everyday being an ‘artist’? Unfortunately, time does strange things when I am engaged creatively, hours pass rapidly and I emerge dazed and bewildered wondering where the day went. If I didn’t have to stop to perform my ‘day job’ or cook or clean or spend time with my family, I literally think my life would disappear in a flash! Perhaps attending to real life, in between bouts of creativity, is more healthy in the long run?
I began the first Joining exercise as soon as I posted Part One. Having felt exhausted, frustrated and deflated I instantly found Part Two more engaging and my mood picked up. I tried to pin point why: Is this exercise more ‘my thing’? Is it the sketchbook? Is it being off work? Is it me? Of course none of this really matters and it is probably a combination of factors but it interests me to consider it.
Having received my feedback from Cari, I looked at what I had produced in a new light. The first thing I noticed is the ‘diary like’ entries in my sketchbook. When did I start doing this? I honestly thought I was quite good at keeping the rhetoric to a minimum and was getting better at being analytical…. but there they were! I found three glaringly obvious passages of “I did this, then that and now I’m going to…” It makes me wonder who I was talking to!
Once I had identified the narrative, it really bugged me! I can see exactly what Cari means, I don’t need to write in prose when a few notes would suffice. I couldn’t leave the sketchbook as it was so, in keeping with the theme of revelation and concealment that I explored in Part One, I proceeded to obscure the text with gouache and draw over the top:
As I noted on the page, I found this process extremely cathartic. Like some sort of cleansing ritual in reverse?
I was grateful for the opportunity to discuss sketchbook practise with Cari after my feedback, I explained that whilst I frequently make a mess when I am working, I tend to do this on paper, allow it to dry, trim it and then stick it in. To challenge this idea of allowing the sketchbook to be messy in parts, I continued to allow Louise Bourgeois inspire the resulting drawing (which I had been doing but on loose paper and stuck in of course!). The result feels much more truthful and authentic.
I have actually found studying Louise Bourgeois (particularly A L’Infini) quite empowering and think it has had a really positive impact on my own practice. I actually find her work quite disturbing. It is so raw I can’t bear to look for too long and yet I am fascinated.
Bourgeois work has an air of honesty, I feel she is telling me the truth about womanhood. Whereas when I look at Agnes Martin and I feel safe and still, Bourgeois makes me uncomfortable and disconcerted, she leaves no where to hide.
I have been thinking about the artists that I would deem as my ‘favourites’ and how they seem to unite to form a multifaceted female personality. Individually, as incredibly strong female artists each one tells me something different about being a woman:
- AGNES MARTIN: Appears serene and calm. Safe and comforting. Yet underneath is calculating and controlling. Cold and detached. Perhaps secretive?
- SONIA DELAUNAY: Is the child, joyful and warm. Enjoys everything life throws at her. Is perhaps rather naïve?
- GEORGIA O’KEEFFE: Is the ‘dirty’ girl who can’t keep her hands to herself or her clothes on. Sensual and sexual. Impulsive and self indulgent.
- LOUISE BOURGEOIS: Appears cautionary: a warning that life is precious and fragile. Anguished and unhappy. Raw and brutal (or brutalised?) Honest and unapologetically forthright.
Do they come together and form a single truth? Is one stronger than all the others? Is she always dominant?