“Now and then everything feels wrong and desolate, and sprawling in pain, weak and exhausted, every effort reverts to grief, every joy collapses with broken wings. and our longing listens for distant summons, aching to receive news filled with joy.
But we still miss bliss fortunate fates elude from afar. Now is the time to listen within, tend our inner garden mindfully until new flowers, new blessings can blossom.”
It started with something familiar, using Payne’s grey acrylic ink to do the line drawing that’s the basis of the composition. My next step usually would be to spray the ink and let it run, or to wet a brush and turn the still-wet ink into wash, or to leave the line to dry entirely (the latter being the least-chosen option). But this time, as I picked up the brush to dip it into some water, I found myself looking at the dry, scratchy hairs and wondering what result I’d get if I drybrushed the still-wet areas of ink. Only one way to find out, of course, and that’s to give into the impulse and see what happens.
This is what the ink lines looked like before I starting drybrushing them; that awkward vertical in the middle is supposed to be a single-track roadsign:
After I’d drybrushed, I dipped the brush into water (the tip, I didn’t want to wash out the ink in the brush) and added some light-grey watery wash.
It’s the beginning of my first attempt using the reference photo I’ve selected for next month’s painting project. So far so good.
I’ll end with the redaction poem I did as the morning’s warm-up exercise:
This is interesting for many reasons. I feel that not too much has changed. The time had come. We shall not fail. Fear. Flinch. So be it then. A sleepless night.
I’ve been pondering what I’ll create for the “Words” exhibition opening at Skyeworks Gallery in April, aware of time ticking away without my starting anything. My mind has kept circling back to found poetry along the lines of Tom Phillips’ Humument. (I fell in love with Phillips’ word-based artwork on encountering it by chance at an exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery in London. In 1989, I just looked it up).
A few days ago when the in-house art critic accidentally drowned a book with a cup of coffee, I thought “aha, words exhibition”, and thus it entered my studio to begin a new life as “collage material”. Add a felt-tip pen, and I ended up creating some redaction poems (also known as found poetry, blackout poetry). Turns out the book was indeed as interesting as the in-house art critic had said.
The writer-artist Austin Kleon, who does a lot of blackout poetry, describes it thus: “It’s sort of like if the CIA did haiku.” His video on the history of this borrowing and reworking is worth a watch.
I prefer the term “redaction” to “blackout”, because redacting a document is something deliberate and active, while a blackout is more something that happens to you. And redacted documents do carry that sinister edge of “what is it they don’t want you to see”, along with the changing of meaning by hiding things. Also, you needn’t use black.