Monday, January 28, 2019

Making Marks is the Start

"Mexico" by Gayle Pritchard, oil pastel with collage and
image transfers on mat board
I have never met a kid who, at a certain age, did not like to draw. Somewhere along the line, most of them end up abandoning the skill, because they are taught, often by an untrained "art" teacher, that their drawings aren't up to snuff. They aren't taught that drawing is a lifelong skill and one that, no matter how good you naturally are at it, can become rusty or greatly improved, depending on how often you practice.

So, making marks: It's the key to it all, and my hands long to create them. Whenever I travel, even if for a few days away from home, I always bring along a little travel kit which includes drawing supplies. I especially love the marks that soft pastels or conte crayons make, but I adore using the less messy oil pastels.

I am fortunate to have two women artists in my life with whom I meet almost weekly: my art group. When we have play days, Jill, the experienced sketcher and painter in the group, often creates opportunities for us to sketch and draw in new ways. Her massive stack of filled sketchbooks regularly inspires us to keep drawing. As further incentive, she even gave both of us a set of Prismacolor pencils and a brand new sketchbook for Christmas. Get crackin', ladies!
Landscape drawing on two pages, oil pastel, by Jill Milenski
Inspired by both Jill Milenski and Gail Crum and their drawing practice, I have returned to a drawing series I started several years ago. For one of our groups' two major shows over the past two years, I began making house drawings that went along with the theme of our show, Circling Back Home.
Two of my house drawings in oil pastel, bottom,
along with Gail Crum's framed collage, top. From
our Circling Back Home exhibition.

I have also been inspired for many years by two other landscape painters: Wolf Kahn and Sheep Jones. Their use of marks and color combined create a deep longing in me, and I absolutely love their paintings. I am especially moved by Jones' imagery, the evocative houses standing in landscapes that she captures in her marks. 

Now that the New Year is well underway, I am happy to have entered back into my art studio routine. This month began with the need to clear off my work space, which always leads to the discovery of some forgotten sketch, background painting, or fabric or collage snippet. I found all of these, and since several were already in progress, still in the thrall of the original idea, I just picked them up to finish them.

House Drawing #3, Gayle Pritchard, 4 x 6
House Drawing #3 was made on a background painting I had made with a marked gesso surface painted with various acrylics, including interference paint. It creates a nice shimmer behind the oil pastels. It's attached with brass brads to one of a giant stash of vintage boxes that I have. It's a good use for the boxes, and a nice way to finish an artwork, especially these little 4" x 6" ones.

House Drawing #4 isn't finished yet. It is larger, and I am going to mount it on the piece of wood shown. It has also turned into an assemblage, with a shelf at the bottom and found wood, metal and glass pieces added. The wood background, salvaged from an old dresser drawer, has oil pastel marks, and I will probably add some more. The house drawing, just started, is also being created on a background prepared with gesso that has been drawn into before being left to dry. When the oil pastels are added to the surface, they can be pushed down into the grooves in the gesso, creating an interesting, textured surface.

House Drawing #4 by Gayle Pritchard, in progress. Found wooden blocks, beach sticks,
altered photographs, glass and metal will be attached to a piece of wood
salvaged from an old dresser drawer.
Making marks is the start of creating for me. I use a mark to "open" a surface, even if I'm working in fiber. Making marks gives a start. It's a beginning of a new idea about to come to life.

No comments:

Post a Comment