This week’s Life Book lesson was taken by Jenny Doh, an artist whose instinctive, loose, free style is a polar opposite of my usual approach to art. During these past twenty weeks of taking Life Book lessons, I have come to recognise that I am definitely much more of an illustrator than any other type of artist and my style definitely leans towards the intentional and controlled. However, I am definitely learning to loosen up a little and am letting elements of unintentional and uncontrolled art find their way into the works that I produce. That represents a real step forward for me and is an area of growth I want to continue to nurture even if my dominant impulse is to be intentional and controlled.
The focus of this week’s lesson was playful mark-making using different tools. Since I own neither fluid acrylics or acrylic ink, I had to improvise a little and just water down acrylic paint to an inky consistency. The colours lost some of their vibrancy as a result. Doh explained that once we were satisfied with all the unintentional elements within our paintings, we could look to see if any forms or shapes seemed to emerge from what was on the paper. That could then be refined into something representational. That was a big area of temptation for me because it would have permitted me to impose some structure and order on what I had produced, provide it with some sort of focal point. However, I decided to keep the whole piece completely abstract so did not even look for suggestions of anything lest I give into temptation. I also decided to ask my 9 year old to determine which way around the finished painting should be and interestingly he chose the complete opposite of what I would have probably gone for because I immediately saw the drips as having to be top down.
I really enjoyed the freedom of mark-making in this way and like the results. While I may never be an abstract artist, I definitely think there is potential for me to build these abstract mark-making elements into my art work.