Oceania

I joined the artist who blogs as Outside Authority at the Royal Academy of Arts a couple of weeks ago.  We made three forays into the “Oceania” exhibition of artefacts from the Pacific diaspora, one to Renzo Piano’s achitectural display “The Art of Making Buildings” and had a timed ticket into the Klimt/Schiele “Drawings from the Albertina Museum, Vienna“.

OA and I have made previous drawing expeditions together but with longs gaps between.  At New Year two years ago, we draw water in Cromford in the cold.  As so often, later, I reworked sketches to find the picture I failed to capture outdoors.  Many months later, we visited the Kathe Kollwitz exhibition and, reflecting on that experience, we wandered, drawing, through Birmingham.  As usual, my medium was soluble ink, moved around with water and covered over with conte crayon. That day, I adopted an idea from OA to limit myself instead to using just three felt tip colours.

However, smudging the sketch with water had led me to be lazy with the lines.  In recent sketches I have used water-fast ink, line and block, to render tone and texture, denying myself the option to alter the picture with water.  This was the approach I took to drawing the Oceania artefacts.

I much admire the work of the German artist Susanne Rempt who blogs under the appropriate monicker Sue Blackpenart.   She frequently draws artefacts in museums and her drawings have such simplicity and carry so much narrative.  On occasion, she illustrates the thought-provoking posts and fiction published by blogger CakeorDeath.  He has posted several times about the importance of the Pacific peoples’ art to the western Surrealist movement in the twentieth century.  Susanne’s influence is obvious in my drawings.  In the first two of these drawings I started with and later erased pencil lines, but in the third, like Blackpenart, I committed myself directly in ink.

16 responses to “Oceania

  1. I was thinking of Sue BPA when we were walking around, did we mention her? Good to see these again and how you’ve captured the texture. Reading the handwritten list of materials – coconut fibre, cloth, human hair, takes me back to the gallery and sends a shiver down the spine. There was so much more in the room than the raw materials. Great day and good work by you. I should post mine, but I may leave it a bit because mine are so pitiful in comparison! I was a bit under the weather and I did pity the woman beside me on the train home with my streaming nose.

  2. I really like these drawings and the way you tell of what pens you have used. Like you, I have often used soluble ink with a little water drawn through, if I want to. I like the way water softens the line in your work, maybe try a lighter grade tone of ink, or colour. I use water-fast ink too, but like to use charcoal rubbed with a finger as a contrast to the line. Your work is not prescriptive, so keep to what feels right for your line.

    • Thanks
      I followed you back and had a quick nose about your blog. It’s interesting to see your own exploration with line. I liked your cloud drawings inspired by Constable among other things. In fact I was amazed by his original drawing – I’d never seen it before. Sometimes sketches are so much more exciting than finished paintings.
      The charcoal idea is an interesting one. I’ll try it. I like its simplicity. Also I have two Japanese cartridge brush pens, a cheaper one with acrylic bristles which delivers a crisp bold flexible line and an expensive sable pen which never flows properly. I’ve found this second one gives me soft greys in a kind of a dry brush technique, a bit like charcoal.

  3. The Pitt-Rivers museum at Oxford was a great place to visit and look at all sorts of cultural artefacts from the past and from across the globe… unfortunately security was so bad that many items got stolen. I don’t know if they ever tightened up, I hope so. But thereagain the thought occurs to me that some might say the items on show were themselves stolen in the first place… (thinking of the Elgin Marbles here – although they are not housed in Oxford…)

    • Currently, I have undertaken a challenging and stressful task for my employer. After all each meeting, I can walk twenty yards to the Lapworth museum of geology and relax among the skeletons of dinosaurs. I keep forgetting to take a sketchpad.

      • The genus Homo has been around 2million years, our species 300000 years. Dinosaurs generally evolved at least 250 million years ago and are still going strong. They have to be among the most successful groups of animals ever. The tragedy is, I guess, that they are losing species rapidly as their habitats are lost. So before we destroy ourselves, we will first destroy the dinosaurs. Perhaps pigeons, herring gulls and crows will be the last to go.

  4. Pingback: Trip | outside authority

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