I became distracted by the limestone surface and explored what might make marks on it. Conte crayon and charcoal just skimmed across barely leaving a trace. I resorted to oil pastel, trying to find the shapes of the olive tree in the pits and ridges of the stone.
My wife is practicing the flute in the room above my head while I make this post. A year ago, I bought her a handful of lessons and a flute, and I think this ranks up near our assorted children and a time-wasting dog as a positively life-changing event. It helps, I think, that I set the bar low by learning to play guitar – she surpassed me within months.
On our holiday, I had a purpose. I knew of a place where the olive trees grow gnarled and twisted among limestone, so that rock, trunk, roots and branches seem sculpted from the same stuff, a setting for scrawny sheep and goats gently clanging their muted off-key bells.
This was the first attempt, in black grey and flesh crayon on brown card.
Liebermann’s floating music perfectly captures the sense of walking up the steep path, sheltering from the hot sun to look north west across the valley at the opposing crags, then cresting the ridge to look the other way, south east, where the eroded mountains fall away to the plains, as the afternoon faded into rain.
These were drawn in graphite, pen and water and then coloured with conte crayon.
I used my holiday in Mallorca to think more consciously about using types of marks in drawing, rather than a style founded more in optimism than skill.
On the coast road south of Porta Pollenca, near Alcudia, there is a kitesurf shop staffed and populated by mad people, that is, people mad about kite surfing, all ages, men and women, sun-bitten and tempered by fighting their sails in the sea.
This was my destination on any cycle trip. Here I could sit, eat ice cream, drink Estrella Galicia beer and look out on the bay and crags beyond.
The single road crossing the mountains on the north west side of Mallorca winds steeply uphill. Just as it reaches the plateau there is a gate signed Vinyes Mortitx. That path twists through groves where roots of limestone grow into olive trees and holm oak. The route climbs to the top of the ridge and looks down onto the sea. Here, patches have been cleared and ploughed, fields ringed by rocks. A square of pink stone within posts and lintel of grey looked like a door, or a shrine.
My most recent post linked conte crayon drawings on brown paper to water colours done three years before in the same location. The drawing above used all these tools: limestone blocked in heavy crayon strokes, watercolour layered over this resist, more crayon to build texture into the trees and vegetation in the foreground, white crayon to lose the demarcation between painted sea and sky.
That previous post brought its own harvest of comments and discussion on the challenges of drawing, and of abstraction versus representation. The most interesting drawing turned out to be the one I had liked least, the first attempt on that day abandoned as a failure. Now I look at it (shown again below) with others’ eyes and see its abstraction, a strong blue against a shape made largely of unadorned paper, a patch of white and strong black lines on the foreground. If I could have seen the power of those elements at that time, I would have been more purposive, drawn just those and stopped.
Let me say, thank you for your insights.
In a limestone gorge leading to the sea, my idea was to abstract rather than represent, using simple crayon marks on seawhite kraft brown card. I found this almost impossible.
The drawings of Welsh megaliths by Rose Davies offer an idea of what I would have liked to have done.