I know that the term ‘automatic’ in conjunction with writing and drawing conjures up the Surrealists and psychoanalysis. I have always been interested in the process because I am a fan of the Surrealists and Dada. Many years ago a tried to write poetry in this fashion, but I lost most of the results. And, of course, I like all things ‘Automattic’, because WordPress blogs are what the web is all about.
Recently (see my previous post) I rediscovered the charm of automatic creation. Using a very basic graphic design tool: an ink pen that can only be used to draw lines along a ruler. I exhibited the results in September 2016 during an art event. In fact, I created them on the evening before the opening, because most of my oil and acrylic paintings were not finished in time. People were charmed by the freshness and lack of finish of the drawings. Some of them I coloured with pencil (Faber-Castell Polychromos), and some I coloured with watercolour.
The inspiration for the drawings originates in Italy, and more specifically a journey from Le Marche to Lazio, and Umbria. The drawings are ‘inspired’ by the landscapes and villages, not literal copies, they are concatenations of shapes that popped up during these automatic drawing sessions. The pen, the unstoppable flow of ink, are the main protagonists of these drawings. These pens are created to draw straight lines of even thickness, they are totally unsuitable for fine drawing. But they are great to invent things as you go an to discover the things your mind throws at you.
My mental world is the world of pre-Socratic philosophy, myth, and eternal landscapes, which is also reflected in these drawings. Are they art?
Quite an enigmatic title. But it refers to the fact that I loaded a photo I posted some months ago into Adobe Color CC, and extracted a nice color theme from it. I let the software run by itself without steering it at all. The result is quite nice.
And for the sake of completeness, the original photograph.
I was somehow struck by the location, the colours, the strong horizontals, and the abandoned functionalism of the place. Aquasanta Terme (Le Marche, Italy) is an old town with a thermal spa situated in a deep valley. Sulfuric sources stream through the station and end up in the river that meanders through the canyon. The swimming pool is at the higher end of the town, and is accompanied by a slightly dystopian parking area.
Although the thermal spa is still in use, it has abandoned area’s too. Squeezed against the rock, this old building.
This watercolour was a real pain to create. The Mulberry paper is mainly used for printing techniques like etching, and doesn’t like India ink and watercolour. When applying watercolour the water is sucked right out of the brush, and the rough surface resists a nice even brushstroke. But I wanted to approach ancient, and predominantly non-Western techniques, like the tree-bark paintings that originates in some South-Sea areas.
Although the painting refers to South-Sea visual- and narrative motives, it also contains references to African (Chi Wara) antilope masks, DNA strings, architectural remnants of past cultures and ancient Northern European runes. It’s a memory chart of cultural history, a theme that I have started to explore again recently.
From time to time I take stock of the colour themes that we carefully create with the use of Adobe Color CC (previously called Kuler). I started using Kuler years ago, and now, after the integration of the applications into the Creative Cloud I still have all my themes right there, at my fingertips, from the first attempts onto the latest themes. Nice.
There is magic involved in mixing and matching the right hues, values, and saturations of the colours. Do they live together? Do they clash? Do they create a harmony, calm, energy? So many memories and associations are intrinsically connected with colour. Like the scents that sent Proust into the past, colour can transport us, change our mood, evoke something we thought we forgot.
Turning the colour wheel, and finding the right theme is invigorating, and intellectually stimulating. But, finding a fitting title is just sheer fun. From the mundane, to the ridiculous, from the serious, to the childish, I think I have exhausted the whole spectrum of possibilities. Now I sometimes create a theme, just for the fun of having to think up a title later.
I picked a couple of themes from the CC colour library I created over time and made some colour theme samples in Illustrator to accompany this post.
This painting stood around unfinished for years. Although I changed both my style and technique some time ago, I decided to give it the finishing elements it needed, by painting in the unfinished bits, and touching up the shadows. Wavering between abstract and realistic, this is a pivotal piece.
We didn’t have much time to tend to the front garden these past years. It looks a bit unkempt now. A bit wild. It possibly is already starting to annoy the people with loads of free time to attack every weed and grass that ventures in their impeccably boring gardens. But, what a wealth. The commonest of plants and flowers are a feast for the eye. Although the roses are late this year. But they will come soon.