Making and Drawing
This is the title of a recent book by Kyra Cane that I’ve just bought for myself – a bit of a self-indulgence as I’m featured in it! I was really pleased to be asked by Kyra to contribute as I absolutely agree with its central point, which is the key place of drawing within an artist’s practice. As she says in her introduction: ‘Drawing is a fundamental part of creative practice’. The book goes on to explore various different roles that drawing can play – such as reference, as design, as making and thinking. It’s a really interesting approach and has made me think about the uses I make of drawing. I’m featured in the ‘drawing as making’ section:Kyra points out here that ‘for some processes the actions are so similar that the act of making is almost the same as that of creating a drawing’. I do agree – in my work, the scalpel and the pencil work the same way. I use both – drawing out a piece, then cutting it and changing/amending with the scalpel as I go. Of course in reality these categories overlap – I use drawing as thinking too, as well as for designing when I’m trying to visualise book structures, I use it to record ideas and (though less often now than I should) simply for the love of it and to practice – like any skill it becomes rusty with lack of use. There are some really interesting and thoughtful interviews with artists such as Alice Kettle, who is also in the ‘drawing as making’ section. Her drawings are in thread, figures moving over a densely stitched surface, often on a huge scale.
What I particularly like is the glimpse inside artist’s sketchbooks – The ceramicist Helen Beard applies her drawings to the surfaces of her pieces; I do like the simple sparse forms she records in her sketchbooks – she manages to sum up a personality in a quick drawing, capturing a quirky stance, a particular turn of the head. Celia Smith’s wirework appears in ‘Drawing as Reference’; what I loved here was the direct parallels between her wirework and her drawing style. You can see her envisaging the forms in wire as she’s drawing them. I don’t know if its the same for Celia, but I’ve definitely found my drawing style changing as I’ve focused more and more on papercutting and artist’s books. It’s almost an unconscious process, that as I draw I’m imagining I’m cutting, so my drawings are becoming sparser, more about outlines and layers and much less about texture. It’s very helpful to find time to reflect on your own practice – I don’t do it nearly enough and reading this book makes me realise I’ve been missing drawing and keeping a sketchbook going, and I need to make some space to do it. It’s hard when you are trying to make a living to find time for drawing just for the sake of drawing, but Kyra’s book reminds me what a fundamental underpinning of my work it is and should remain.