Wednesday, 21 August 2013

Sketchbook, Daniel Zeller and John Franzen

I'd been feeling quite stressed about restarting the course after a bit of a break from drawing and was feeling out of practice with pens and pencils. The first exercise of part three hadn't gone awfully well due to my rather panicky approach to the rapid sketches. I remembered how in part one I started to loosen up and enjoy drawing more after doing blind contour drawings without looking at the page and wanted to do something non-course related without the aim of producing a picture but just to get me back into the physical act of drawing again. 

I'd been reminded of childhood/teenage doodling of repetitive marks and lines when I saw Ibrahim el Salahi's " The Tree". I'd also been looking at Daniel Zeller's work in "Vitamin D". 

I really love his work. The organic forms seem to spread and grow across the page like micro-organisms or mould. The final images are sometimes reminiscent of electron micrographs or satellite photos of the Earth from space. The compositions are not pre-planned - the artist starts with a mark and works from there. It is a bit like automatic drawing (surrealists) but he is inspired by natural forms rather than dreams or imagination.

I then happened to come across a video of John Franzen working on "Each Line One Breath". One of the resulting images can be seen here. The artist starts by drawing a straight line at one side of the page and then continues to draw repetitive lines adjacent to this until he gets to the other side of the paper. As imperfections crop up along the way he chooses which imperfections to exaggerate and which to suppress. He eventually suppresses most of the imperfections to end up with a straight line again at the other side of the page. The resulting abstract image gives an impression of three-dimensionality on the flat page like ripples in water or ridges on a rock. 

The thing that struck me most about watching the artist work on the video was how meditative the action  was. It was like a movement meditation (although many of the people commenting on the blog said it was more like O.C.D.) - the artist was fully present in the moment- not planning too far ahead just concentrating on the particular line he was drawing. I decided that this was the sort of thing in needed to do so I did some doodling in my sketchbook. I didn't try to produce something as large and impressive as John Franzen's pieces. I was more interested in how the meditative process would be helpful to me so I made no attempt to plan ahead to get back to a straight line. I thoroughly  enjoyed the activity and this as well as the blind contour drawings will be useful to come back to when I'm feeling a bit stuck or nervous on the course.
First drawing based on the doodles I did as a teenager. Starts with a curved or
looping line in the middle of the page then converging lines are drawn from both

Drawing 2 : A movement meditation inspired by John Franzen.

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