Here is a time lapse of the wall drawing progress for my solo show in Rundum Artist-Run Space in Tallinn. It is a drawing of the Sea Shepherd ship M/V Bob Barker based on a beautiful photo taken by Jo-Anne McArthur (We Animals). The whole process only took something like 7 hours and several marker re-fills. I was extremely happy to be able to do this; drawing on walls is incredibly fun and hopefully I can repeat the experience again soon! If it was up to me I’d be doing a lot more drawing on walls, filling whole rooms with drawings in fact, a little like Charlotte Mann who draws furniture and decorations and even parquet floors! There are so many intricate details in her work, it is just mind boggling. Perhaps one day I will have a blank-canvas room all to myself to fill with a linear world…
When I was studying art in high school I could not comprehend why one teacher never seemed to be satisfied with my portrait drawings. I was able to achieve such great resemblance with the subject through meticulous shading and pencil smudging – the perfect use of possibilities that a 2B pencil can offer with its grayscale variations. And yet she thought it was lacking personality. At the time I didn’t understand at all what she meant by that.
In university we rarely had any drawing assignments, so my skilled grayscale-hand got rusty. But one time we had to put together a huge portfolio with a lot of sketches, including drawings of everyday objects such as shoes and pots. One night I was sitting at my desk fighting boredom while trying to draw a saucepan and realized that if I wanted to draw it in my usual way I would have to do a lot of tedious and uniform shading. So it is out of laziness and boredom that the idea struck: why not draw just the contours of the object and the lines between dark and light areas to give it depth.
That drawing took me only a few minutes to make (and as I have a rather short attention span then energy efficiency is extremely important for me) and ever since then I have never gone back to pencil-shading or even pen-hashing to differentiate light and dark areas of an image. I wonder what my old teacher would say about my drawing style now…
Have you ever made any valuable discoveries out of laziness?
Big Glove (Ship Life series) – drawing in a light box, Anastasia Parmson 2013
Here is a sneaky-peaky of one of my light boxes (with Tallinn city lights in the background)! This one is called “Big Glove”, it is part of a series of light box drawings entitled “Ship Life” that retrace moments of my time spent onboard one of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society ships in the Antarctic waters. This work could perhaps evoke the bleak and cold environment of the Southern Ocean with its snow-white shiny backdrop and the images reduced to a bare minimum.
Between assembling the boxes, getting some other artworks printed and encountering various technical difficulties in-between all that I am also putting together an exhibition project for a freshly opened artist-run space Rundum situated in the old town of Tallinn. As well as doing research on some upcoming juried shows and open calls; meeting new interesting people from the local art world; slowly putting together my website… Interesting times!
Last week I sent out my first ever art newsletter! I am very excited and a little bit nervous about this new commitment. It seems like a huge step in my work process because having to send monthly updates will really keep me accountable to a lot more people than just myself. Talk about a shot of motivation to get things done! Click on the picture above if you would like to subscribe and be part of the journey!
If you are an artist wondering what this whole newsletter thing is about and wether/why you should start one, here is a great article explaining a lot of things.
PS: pictured above is the US Courthouse in New York. After visiting NYC for the first time I can see why so many artists and photographers have been inspired by the city throughout history. The light quality there is amazing and very unique. The contrasts and angles created by the architecture are almost magnetic – begging to be retraced by your camera, your pencil or your paintbrush… Artists who have been to NY – I know you know what I’m talking about.
As promised in my last post: here is a comparison of two similar drawings. The one on the left was done using a graphic tablet and the one on the right was done the old school style – with pen on paper, later scanned. Even though the subject and style are quite similar the difference in detail and line quality is apparent. I still can’t bring myself to say that one is better than the other because for me it all depends on how, where and in what circumstances the work is presented.
Which one do you prefer?
I used to do all of my drawing the classical way – using pen and paper. Sometimes I would add some color with felt pens and then scan the image to expand its potential uses. Which is part of the reason why all my original drawings are on A4 size paper. I treat the originals as if they are negatives (or RAW files) – something that is filed away in storage and not to be displayed in its original form.
Recently I decided to invest in a graphic tablet, hoping it would help my productivity and diversify my work. Granted, on the photos the old tools look a lot more colorful and interesting but the Wacom tablet has really changed my workflow and opened a whole new world of possibilities. I can add a lot more detail to the drawings, experiment with color, erase defects or go back to the black&white lines if necessary. I can expand the size of printed drawings to dimensions that would never be possible with the old A4 prints – no matter how high the scan resolution.
Getting a large scale proof printed of some older and newer works really hit it home for me today: the sleek, smooth finish of digital drawing is so different from the old scans with ink bleeds, paper texture and color distortions. On the one hand I do love the look of hand drawings with all the imperfections and wobbly felt pen color-ins. But on the other hand I am a bit of a control freak when it comes to smooth lines and clean colors.
In my next post I will put together a little comparison between the old and new technique so you can see for yourselves, so stay tuned!
On my way to Australia I stopped in Kuala Lumpur for a few days and stayed at a true CouchSurfing House with very generous hosts who had travelers passing through all the time. On my last night we went out for some street food and met this French girl who was traveling on her own. It turned out she was an artist as well and decided to travel around South-East Asia on her own to challenge herself and get out of a creative slump. We discovered we both had a similar problem: the fear of color. We were both afraid to add color to our artwork because it was difficult to decide which tones to pick and when to stop. So inspired by this accidental encounter I made this drawing of her and tried to use more color than I ever did before, which in a way is rather suitable to convey the colorful urban architecture of Kuala Lumpur. Do you have any phobias you have had to confront in the course of your work?
[“Last Night in Kuala Lumpur”, 2009, felt pen on paper]