On Monday, not really knowing what to do with myself, I went to Kew Gardens in an attempt to draw beautiful plants, enjoy myself and start a sketchbook practice again. Now for those who don't know me, I was once known as the Queen of Skecthbooks. That's right. When you study fashion, sketchbooks are the absolute centre of your universe, they are the moon, the sun, the water and the earth. You never go anywhere without your current project's sketchbook, you make them into truly beautiful objects, each page better than the next, collecting fabrics, images from magazines, drawing, sketching design ideas, creating the mood for the clothes you want to make. I absolutely adored them, it was my favourite part of studying fashion: I wasn't so interested in making clothes in fact... I was really into making these beautiful books, drawing in them, baring my soul. People used to say, "Your books are so beautiful, but they're not fashion, you should study fine art"... And I did, after finishing my BA I went on to study and MA in Painting at the Glasgow School of Art.
About 3 years ago though, somehow, I stopped having sketchbooks where I drew. Just stopped. I guess having started a "career" in the arts meant that I had "no time" for silly doodling. And oh gosh I miss it! I read recently in an artist blog that sketchbooks are very important and safe spaces for artists, and it is so very true. It's a deeply personal, intimate space where we get to safely try out new things, make mistakes, none of it matters, none of it will be exhibited anywhere. And that feels so good when every piece of work has usually got some pressure attached, a next show, a newt fair... Will it sell? Is it good enough?
So the other day, I started drawing in my sketchbook again, I have two to be precise! And I did some stuff on loose sheets too, drawings where I am "allowed" to do whatever! Isn't it strange that I need to give myself permission to do that? Well it's just the way it is.
Which brings me to the subject of master Cy Twombly. I went to see his show in Paris the other day, he is one of my favourite painters of all time. Oouaou, I was blown away, such beauty, such freedom. Not everyone gets it, some people feel he's just messing around, doing stuff "children can do" (that dreaded comment that doesn't mean anything). The scale of them, the amount of energy there is in each piece, how they hum, vibrate. I cried in front of the series "Nine Discourses on Commodus", absolutely breathtaking. You feel the murder, the blood, the hatred. I know what it takes to make good abstract art, and his are, in my opinion, as good as it gets. There's so much poetry in every mark he makes, in every space he leaves. I could imagine him taking time to just be with the paintings, waiting for the mark to build up in his hand.
And it reminded me that when I started really painting abstract works in 2010, I began making very abstract expressionist works, à la Cy Twombly and Joan Mitchell. Perhaps everyone who paints abstract pictures goes through that phase. Ans as I progressed, I went further and further away from that, and I recently rediscovered the love that I have for drawing, and especially drawing with coloured pencils, meticulous, detailed, time-consuming things that have been very satisfying. But... I miss the freedom, I miss the "fuck it" attitude there can be in painting more loosely. And my intention is to somehow mix those two different ways of working, to mix the "gribouillage" (scribble in French) and the more detailed works of mine. So I'm going to do just that. This week, I will prepare some surfaces, mounting beautiful Fabriano paper onto canvas, which allows me to work heavily in paint on top. Let's see where it leads me...