Another world

The next in a continuing series – this drawing began from a small image I have of a flower head which is a mass of tiny flowers, with long stamens appearing irregularly outside the flower head. The mandala shape appealed to me, with its regularity of form. As usual, the original image was left a long way behind as this drawing developed and took on a life of its own. The forms within it could be floral, but they could also be reminiscent of small animals or insects – a life form from another world. The drawing is quite large, 64 cm square.

I always work with a limited palette of colours, this time essentially blues, half a dozen or so different pencils, but then with greens and reds breaking through. Gradually developing the image is quite meditative, surprises appearing all the time.

This is the starting point, loosely painted with blue-tinted Liquid Pencil on to yupo synthetic paper. Getting the composition right at this stage is essential, if the balance is wrong, it can’t be rescued with later work.

A detail showing the drawing-in work beginning. None of those shapes are finalised at this stage, more work is needed to balance the colours and link the forms. As the drawing progresses, I add or remove colour as the imagery demands. On my desk beside the drawing I have a strip of waste yupo that I test the colours on, which belong with which, so I can build the collection of pencils that I will use for each drawing.

Detail of the centre of the drawing.

Author: anna warren portfolio

I draw, I paint, I am a printmaker. Always searching for the interesting detail in the world around me.

12 thoughts

  1. I get a sense of joy from this drawing. I can only imagine its impact when viewed full-sized. It is probably the bouquet-shape which I see as optimistic and celebratory.

    It is interesting to read how you go about it. There is much intuitiveness in your process. When you are putting on the first shapes you have to be able to let go but have a degree of control simultaneously. You can’t let your inner critic put you off but at the same time you have to listen to your innate sense of design. So you are doing an internal dance between intuition and control – especially, I’d say, in that very first stage.

    Your spaces between the shapes are vital and so beautifully realised, like silent pauses in a sonata.

    On another note isn’t it interesting how you and I both used to post practically weekly and now our published posts are several weeks apart.

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  2. Invariably when I start one of these drawings my instinct is to assume disaster. I have just started a new one, with grave doubts until it started to come together – however, it could still fall apart. Those early stages are indeed critical, but I have learned to push on in the face of doubt, and generally it works out ok. So, even if I’m happy with the initial underdrawing, I lack a sense of sureness until the very end. I do like this one, but worry about the monochromatic nature – when you look closely into it you can see the subtlety of the colour range but it’s hard to capture accurately in a photo. So, the inner critic has been busy!

    I love the fact you see joy in this one! It is lighter, more delicate than some of the previous ones, but I hope not pretty (I don’t think it is!). The thing I do enjoy though is relinquishing control, I love stepping back and being surprised.

    Yes, the excitement of blogging has reduced over the years, my main communication of my art is instagram now, quick easy and effective. But being able to be a bit more expansive in a blog post is still a very useful tool. I’m glad I am continuing to do this! And always enjoy seeing yours too!

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    1. No I wouldn’t use the word ‘pretty’ but don’t be cross if I use the word ‘elegant’. I get you because I worry about birds being cute.

      Also totally with you on pushing on in the face of doubt. And lets face it, doubt is way more exciting than surety when it comes to making art. We both know that.

      Tell the inner critic to be quiet about monochromatic nature. Tell her “Julie says it is perfect”.

      Your blogs are important; keep doing them, it doesn’t matter that they are less frequent than they used to be. We’ve been doing them for over a decade now…surely something to celebrate.

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      1. One of the best things about a blog is what we are doing right now – the opportunity to enter into a conversation, and develop ideas as a result of those discussions. The blog will continue, here’s to the next decade of interesting conversations!

        Elegant is good – thank you!!

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        1. Anna, your posts always make me think. I love our discussions as well. And I’m glad you like elegant! I’m rather a fan of elegance in life, I must say, though you wouldn’t think it from looking at the way I dress.

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    1. Thanks Jean – your comment brought a smile to my face, I like the idea of it being an insane way of working! Over the years I have done many classes and learnt so much about the artistic process and myself, but it is only now that I feel I am working in a truly authentic way for myself. I know I can draw, and still love it, I will always take my travel sketchbook when I’m out in the bush, but now those drawings are not only an end in themselves (which they are, as a record of experience) but also a stepping stone to these more abstract works.

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    1. Thanks Leonie – I think the lesson of ignoring the inner critic, and pushing on through the stages that look all wrong is one of the most valuable I have learned. Your work is similar in so many ways, yet so different in material ways, in that you are happy to surrender control and enjoy the serendipity!

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