As I start to write this post, on the iPlayer, Lianne la Havas is playing Glastonbury. The camera pans across the crowd and drops down on a bloke drawing, I catch a glimpse of her body and guitar in black marker on paper. That is a moment of drawing energy.
Last week, my second day on Bass Rock, I set out to spend the first hour or so catching the movement of the birds preening, displaying and fighting. I switched between pencil and a rollerball pen on smooth paper to make those marks fast.
Here I have commented:
Quadrapeds! Using wings as legs to brace themselves on the ground to wrestle. Blood drawn. Exhausted after. Groups of up to 5 gannets join the fight, tumbling over the rocks.
It is one of the tutors, Greg, who comments on another kind of energy within the drawn page. I just spatter drawings across the paper according to where there is space but the drawings do not relate to each other.
I am still struggling to get Greg’s point. Is this energy like the organisation of frames in a graphic novel but without the sketches following a narrative? Perhaps it is similar to the organisation within technical diagrams or on a mind map: cognition expressed on paper. Perhaps this is more like poetry on paper: no overall composition in the linked sketches yet together they have a dynamic just as sounds might be linked into a whole despite not because of their meaning.
After this was said, I began to see that others on the course were doing this as their natural way of drawing. I do not. This is another challenge.
This last painting had another energy. The wind picked up in the afternoon scattering months of fallen feathers, dust and dried guano in all directions, onto paper, into paint, into hair, clothes and mouths. Some of the texture above comes from this detritus incorporated into the washes.
The swell built below us in the Firth. After hurried mobile calls, it became clear that if we did not leave now, we would not leave that day, and even now our boat would not be able to come in to pick us up. Fortunately, the “rib” inflatable craft from the Scottish Seabird Centre was more robust. It lay lower in the water than the steps from the platform, so we each had to leap with our gear, timing this with the swell.