Project 0: warm-up exercises

Project 0.1: Drawing small and big

large circles
Drawing big, willow charcoal on A1 paper, alternating left and right hand

On small sheets of paper I drew rows of ovals.

This was written following the first sheet, right hand, HB pencil:

Ovals with the right hand are performed in an anti-clockwise fashion. Interestingly I began to cross out any circles I accidentally drew, before realising that these are probably ovals anyway. Another interesting facet was the poise of my arm: far too stiff at first, pressing down very hard with the pencil. Relaxing my arm made this much easier.

There was a distinct feeling of being cossetted within the series of ovals – safe in the knowledge that I knew exactly what was coming next.

The entire outer edge of my hand and forearm was in contact with the paper for most of the exercise, not even lifting off the paper but sweeping across the surface. As I draw, I am reminded of the exercise of writing, the emptiness of the ‘O’s, and the meanings this shape can possibly carry.

“This is not going to get done any faster if I hurry – it will only get done┬áless satisfactorily”, was another thing that kept crossing my mind. After all, why am I here at all? Not to rush through, that is for sure.

Following the second sheet, left hand, HB pencil:

Circles travel in clockwise fashion. Much more uniform towards the end of the page. Much more variation in oval orientation, pressure and style.

I noticed that my forearm sweeps like a window-wiper from the centre of the page. My hand was rigid, while my wrist swivelled round in order to trace circular forms on the page.

Third and fourth sheets, fineliner pen

I am reminded of concrete poetry a little bit. Looking forward to the next exercise…

Drawing big

This second exercise involved larger circles with willow charcoal on A1 paper. My forearm remained static while my shoulder did all of the work rotating. I did not really perceive any difference between my left and right arm work, probably because no fine motor skills were involved.

Project 0.2: Drawing in short and long bursts

short bursts
Drawing in short bursts, sharpened willow charcoal, A1 paper

Drawing in short bursts using sharpened willow charcoal on A1 paper taped to the wall. This involved rather convulsive movements with my forearm while the rest of my body convulsed in sympathy… Yes, compared to the previous exercises, there is so much energy and movement on this paper – lent by the short stabbing zig-zag lines, the varying thickness of line (as the willow charcoal blunted and I didn’t want to ruin the momentum to stop and sharpen), the overlapping lines and varying amplitude of zig-zags. So I opted to intensify the movement with overlaid patterns, allowing the charcoal to crumble and lay alongside, avoiding smudging. Longer lines were then added and the area filled with muted grey. Interesting that previous layer of short bursts were still present behind the smooth grey. Some beautiful texture when charcoal turned on its side (perhaps from the wall underneath), as well as distinct marks on the edge of the paper where it had been ruffled during delivery.

Project 0.3: Using your fingers, wrists, elbow, shoulder

‘Fingers and wrists’ exercise was interesting, although ‘At arm’s length’ really was new for me: drawing freely on such a big scale. I taped two sheets of A1 together in order to really swing my arm around with the compressed charcoal stick for this and the last exercise, ‘Using your shoulder’.

A note on Tom Marioni

Tom Marioni, mentioned in the course notes, is a conceptual artist who has explored the act of drawing in the past.

Marioni is also famous for ‘The act of drinking beer is the highest form of art’, which he discusses in this video clip. The act of drinking beer with friends has also been mentioned as the best form of rebellion against encumbent political systems – i.e. removing oneself from that system of commodities, by becoming ‘unproductive’, i.e. simply being sociable with friends and nothing more. Still, interesting that Tom Marioni managed to (presumably) monetise this concept through his art! Perhaps he is laughing at people like me who try to intellectualise what he is doing…