Full Circle (well almost)

I just have it in me to do things sometimes. I can’t describe it any other way. And this time, I just needed it to be big and to be messy.

I don’t know whether you have seen those young, thin arty-looking artists who lie or kneel on the floor in a beautiful abandoned building and make wonderful sculptural shapes by drawing with their arms out? Well that was me… in my head anyway. In reality, a non arty-looking, podgy middle-aged woman nearly asphyxiated herself by kneeling over her ample bosom trying to breathe as she made an attempt to elegantly draw marks surrounding herself. Then she couldn’t actually get up until the blood made it back to her legs. It wasn’t a pretty site, and the thing is, as I started to use paint I had to take it outside. As it was early on a Sunday morning I was very much hoping my neighbours were enjoying a lie in because at that point there was, and excuse the indelicacy, a touch of builder’s bottom happening at this point as I had to wear baggy trousers just to remotely assume the correct position.

So now you can’t unsee that image, let me take you through what ended up as something I quite liked – surprisingly. I am playing around with some notions for some work I’d like to pull together at some point. It concerns the way we surround ourselves psychologically. And I really want to work big so I taped a load of lining paper together to make a huge sheet of paper to work on before setting to on my nimble, gazelle-like movements on the floor.

I lowered myself into position, charcoal to paper in both hands, closed my eyes in a spirit- calming manner, breathed deeply so I wouldn’t pass out… and my charcoal snapped. Moments later, some marks were happening but I had to peek. I wanted a circle and I needed to peek just a little bit to see how to overlap my arm movements above my head. Ok so far. More charcoal, then more chalk and oil crayons and markers.

Then I remembered a huge lump of burnt something I had outside the back door which I rescued from last year’s village bonfire site. It’s just a thing I enjoy doing because there are some treasures to be found. The local residents might describe me as a treasure, too, I imagine as I’m taking photos of charred remains and carting away bits of burnt stuff.

This lump was great, I mean you really can’t be precise or worry too much what’s happening when you are kneeling and waving something heavy like this across a piece of paper.

So some more stages…

Then, finally, because I had a pile of photos and knew I couldn’t keep this object d’art, I got out some frozen oak gall ink from beside the mixed veg and microwaved it back into life. This was another experiment – but it was perfectly ok. So now you know you can freeze ink and resurrect it again when needed. It make sense actually, because sepia (squid ink) has been found in frozen places thousands of years old and people have been able to use it. This was splattered on and then allowed to drip and dry.

I took the three lengths of paper apart and saved one. This was worked into a little further with Pitt pens and paint. You can see it at the end of the blog. I’m just spending time looking at it at the moment and gathering some thoughts. The other lengths were cut up to play around with, and here are some of those pieces.

I was so thrilled to be working like this, I was thinking happy thoughts as I made my initial marks, but then it just moved into enjoying marks and splatters because I liked them visually. I want to explore developing a vocabulary of marks over the next few months to express things in a more focused way but this was just time for a frenzy.

I also like using some of the photo apps to change and superimpose images. Here’s one.

I now have some ‘proper’ big paper to enjoy so I’m going to do more experimenting and smaller mark making. It will be a while before/if I start using stitch on anything. I’m hoping to be able to pin the paper up somewhere so I can at least breathe next time.

I will see you next month following a course I am attending with Debbie Lyddon on working with sound and mark-making which I’m really looking forward to. Better take some better trousers though just in case there is floor work as we will be outside!

31 thoughts on “Full Circle (well almost)

  1. These are fabulous Rachael, and your story telling so funny as well. I might need an alcoholic drink and some chocolate buttons to ease away some of the remaining images though!! Tee hee! But keep going. It’s looking fabulous as always and I can’t wait to see the final outcome.

  2. Oh, you give me hope in an uncertain world! And beautiful work. I like the way you kept working on, and working on…. I think I’d like to try that approach. I suggest to avoid builder’s bum, no breeks, bare arse approach…….

  3. Wonderful work Rachael! I would have paid good money to see your performance! At one time I though you were going to say you’d put the charcoal on your backside and cavorted around… maybe next time! Xxx

  4. Wonderful result, you made it sound so easy, I would only fit into the first category, not being able to get up again, that is if I mana ged to get down now, thankyou for sharing.xx

  5. Wow, this is wonderful and the process so well explained and with humour too. I would never, ever have though of using a half burnt thingy as you have!!! Fabulous stuff.

  6. Oh I do love a good chortle and you always seem to deliver! A delightful experiment and the progressing results look inspiring. Enjoy Debbie Lyddon I love her work too.

  7. Wow, I love your work Rachael! inspiring too. Getting over being too shy, getting over all the things we put before us…thank you for the inspiration!

    1. Thank you. Maybe precision is what drives and interests you and if so, then that’s good. But if not, I’d recommend a huge sheet of paper, lots of paint, old clothes and a large glass of wine. Y

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