Week 17 + 18: Philosophy and Colour

Hello everyone, I guess this is my first proper update since the Christmas break. I had a lovely relaxing which I feel was needed as the first semester was really intense, although in the best possible way. Towards the end of the break I started getting a bit restless (as I tend to do if I haven’t created work in a while). I began experimenting with different drawing techniques, one of which was pyrography. This involves using a pyrography tool to burn images into whichever surface you choose, I started with paper. I had a tutorial with Norman Shaw (who I am a massive fan of) and we talked about the properties of burning. There is something quite transformative both figuratively and metaphorically about burning, seeing as it is used in thousands of cleansing rituals all across the globe. The physical act of burning as well is different to anything I have tried before – the smell of the paper burning is actually surprisingly nice.   

So apart from these pyrography tests I felt a bit stuck a few weeks ago. I wasn’t really sure where to go with my work, so I started thinking about the concept of meditation and automatic drawing. That got me thinking about the concept of trance, and how it has been used in rituals to create a link to the unconscious. This led me on to think about energy fields, the concept of chakras and finally Reiki. This energy healing technique has been on my radar for some time but I always made excuses not to experience it. I thought that this would be the perfect time to try something new and maybe gain some inspiration.

The story of my first Reiki experience is quite a long one so I will try to shorten it for ease of reading. I ended up selecting a Reiki healer in Dundee that was reasonably priced and went into the session with no preconceived ideas of what to expect or feel. In short: it felt incredible. I felt all sorts of sensations from heat to vibration and saw many different visions and colours. I felt like my system was rebooted and refreshed. I went home that night and I felt as if I had all of this abundant energy in me so I tried to capture this energy in pencil sketches (see below). I like the combination of the soft and hard areas in these sketches and the feel like a natural extension of the automatic drawing work I have been doing.

After having another tutorial with Norman I started switching my pyrography to birch plywood and used the grain of the wood to guide my pyrography. As I was so inspired by colours I saw during my Reiki session I finally decided it is time to add colour back into my work. I think the last time my work had colour in was maybe 2015 and that was photography. The last time I made a drawing with colour in it was definitely 2013 – I think this change is lovely, it is signifying a new stage in both my life and my work. I decided on the colours that I saw during my experience which were mainly indigo and violet. I cannot describe how good it feels to be using colour again after so many years. It feels like a definite release from the monochrome work I have been making for the past couple of years.

In regards to our second module – Philosophies of Imagination – I am thoroughly enjoying it even though I’m finding it quite challenging. We have to create a piece separate from our studio work to show alongside a 1500 word artist statement/work proposal. I am really happy we have this separate project to work on as I don’t want to give up working with acrylic and lights. Now I have discovered my love of colour again I am also excited at the prospect of coloured acrylic and lights and the stacking of numerous etched acrylic panels. We have been studying a range of topics including Heidegger and animals, the sympathetic imagination and fetishism and the imagination. All of which have been interesting but I am definitely focusing my work on the subject of the last part of the module which is the unconscious, especially in Freud’s writing. Psychology is just a subject I have always been fascinated by and it always creeps into my work somehow.

Also as a last little update I joined Generator Projects which is an artist’s collective here in Dundee and am currently exhibiting one of my pyrography drawings in their member’s show (see below) which is a nice addition to the start of the semester.

So that’s everything that is happening so far this semester. I will have an update in a fortnight’s time on how things are going, and hopefully a studio space update as well! See you then… 


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