Saturday, August 15, 2009
Dictionary of Marks, Scratches and Symbols
Investigation and studio work continue. I am well into a series of exploratory collage, where I am playing with marks. Brush marks, finger marks, lines as marks, found marks, drips, scratches and spatters. I have used a piece of wood, a scrap of mat board, a brush, a bamboo skewer, and of course my fingers to make marks. I think of these collages as a dictionary of my personal marks. I may place these collage in an artist book, like a dictionary, or they may have some other landing place. The point is to freely experiment – a lot.
Marks can be lyrical and suggest a rhythm. I have made marks while listening to the male quail keep his brood informed. Cluck, cluck, cluck. Cluckcluckcluckcluckcluck. I’m going to incorporate those marks into a collage and see what that does. And I am going to keep listening and looking at marks in nature and anywhere else I find myself.
I hope to use these mark making experiments to spring board into working with gesture, which I think of as really big marks, made with the whole arm in conjunction with a brush, not just using my fingers and a tool. Marks occur in a space of course so I am also paying attention to my use of the two dimensional space of the surface. I am finding it helpful to slow down, look at elements one by one, and realize I have all the time in the world to find my way.
If you like mark making here are a few resources. I have recently discovered two blogs of mark makers, Jacob Albablank from Spain and Imbi Star of Australia. Jacob has a Flicker set of marks which also show his lovely studio space. Of course Cy Twombly is a masterful mark maker. A collection of his work can be seen here.
In my exploration I can across this quote, connected with Phillip Guston and John Cage. “When you start working, everybody is in your studio – the past, your friends, your enemies, the art world, and above all your own ideas – all are there. But as you continue painting they start to leave, one by one, and you are left completely alone. Then if you are lucky, even you leave.”