Initially I wrote this log as quite a ramble. It was all about the concept of conveying emotions through art, all pretty much based on my own philosophical musings, and then suddenly I had a sharp wake-up call that this really wasn’t what was being asked of me. There was no depth, not a lot of research, no evidence to back up what I had written and as such, it left all of my words empty and pointless.
So this is attempt number two, hopefully I will convey things a little more appropriately this time around.
I have listed works by particular artists (and the books/web address where each image can be found) where I feel the marks, lines etc offer something more than just the image. I have included a brief line or two about how I personally connect with each piece and also a guess as to the artist’s state of mind/energy whilst creating the piece. By doing this I am intentionally trying to access the image within myself rather than with my mind, and have spent time contemplating whether each particular piece of art is really capable of expressing emotion.
Davidson M. (2011) Contemporary drawing. Key concepts and Techniques, New York: Watson-Guptill Publications
Tom Marioni, Flying with Friends, 1999. Coloured pencil on paper, 36 x 89 inches (pg70)
I love this picture. The description in the book is that ‘the marks were made in this drawing when the artist and friends run up to it and then leap past the paper, marking it with the coloured pencils they are holding’ (Davidson, 2011, p. 70). This image has a playfulness, a lightness and such energy to it. It also challenges the viewer to question whether they are precious about art being produced solely by the artist themselves. It is fascinating to see that such energy can be captured by the repeated use of the same type of line in the same medium. State of mind of artist: joyous/frivolous
Louise Kikuchi, Autumn, 1995, Sumi ink and gansai on paper, 26 x 17 inches (pg 67)
This evokes such emotion for me – how can dots do that? The way they have been placed on the paper, the paper itself, the areas where the ink has splattered – they all are an intrinsic part of the experience of looking at this image as more than a collection of dots. State of mind of artist: mindful
Robert Ernst Marx, Sam 2010, graphite on paper, 13 ½ x 11 inches (pg 56)
An extraordinary use of different graphite marks – there are hardly any obvious lines – all of the energy and emotion in this drawing have been created with the use of texture. I find I am uncomfortable looking at this image – it repels me and frightens me a little, and yet I am also drawn to it – the beauty of the marks made and the somewhat hopelessness of the face. State of mind of artist: troubled
Barbara Fugate, Charcoal Figure Gesture 2010, compressed charcoal on paper, 36 x 24 inches (pg 47)
I have included this drawing as the most minimalist of all my choices. I think it shows the possibilities of representing something far more than just a line in a ‘simple’ line drawing. There is such texture, such energy and such fluidity in the marks made on the page. It is simple, and without any excessive marks needed to be made. It is another great example of the way that something far deeper than the image can be expressed by the use of intentional mark making. State of mind: free
Dexter E. (2005) Vitamin d. New perspectives in drawing. 7th ed. London: Phaidon Press Limited
Vik Muniz, Prixon XIII, the Well, After Piranesi, 2002, Cibachrome, 72 x 100 inches
I picked this image as it almost looks as though the image is vibrating on the page. The energy in the lines is incredibly intense and carries with it a feeling of density. The type of shading that has been used appears to be a variety of lines and cross hatching with outlines in white dots – all relatively straightforward it would seem. However, the way they have been assembled and the angles of the lines in juxtaposition to the texture they are placed against all create a feeling of movement and transformation. State of mind: energised
Julie Mehretu, Untitled (New Drawings), 2004, graphite on paper, 22 x 30 inches
As with Barbara Robertson’s work, I find the technical ability to draw such an accurate set of marks quite remarkable. I love this very graphic representation of the mark – there are so many marks represented in this drawing, all in graphite and yet showing such a range. I find that the way the marks are placed, and the choice of texture to each of them brings out a sense of elation and lightness in me as a response to the image. I find the image incredibly relaxing, as though I am connecting with something already within myself. It is these more abstract drawings that seem to reveal just how emotions are conveyed via the drawing, as opposed to because of the image because there isn’t a subject matter that my conscious mind can latch onto and, therefore, connect with – it’s a pure internal response that I experience looking at this drawing. State of mind: free
Marlene Dumas, Blindfolded, 2002, twenty drawings, inkwash on paper, each 13 7/8 x 11 3/8 inches
Immediately upon seeing these images I am overwhelmed with sorrow and am uncomfortable with the reality that I am confronted with. The weight of the ink somehow conveys the horrifying situation that we find each of the men in. The absence of eyes – often covered with the blank space of a blindfold or with eyes closed – are these men dead? Are they being tortured? There is a hopelessness and burden of heaviness with each of these images that for me goes beyond the surface. It connects me in with all my own feelings of horror at the concept of someone being tortured, and even worse tortured to death. There is also a helplessness that comes into play whilst looking at these images as I am outnumbered by all these suffering men. I want to help and I can’t. I also wonder if they are self portrait size – like looking into 20 mirrors and seeing 20 men that may be dead staring back at me. State of mind: burdened/despair
Sandra Cinto, Untitled, from the series “Nights of Hope” 2004, ink and acrylic on painting medium density fiberboard, 110 ¼ x 74 7/8 inches
This piece of work is extraordinary. There appears to be so much attention to detail with every line produced, such precision with each mark. There is a strong element of order in the mark making, however, the overall impact for me is one of real joy, beauty and such an uplifting energy. State of mind: elevated
Matthew Atabet, The Wordless Thought that Comes from Looking in a Fire1
This for me embodies the possibility of an artist conveying emotion through gesture and energy rather than form. The direction of the lines, the energy in the smudged areas and the dark brooding centre all convey exactly what is described in the title of the drawing. There is an ethereal quality to the expression of the subject matter which seems to me to go far beyond the use of the medium and as I contemplate the painting I can really access within myself my own primal response to the wordless thought that comes from looking in a fire. State of mind: elemental
Mehmet Dere, I dare to live
This is a bold image with beautiful expressive lines and cross hatching/shading. The deep dark areas to me feel weighty with the man’s life gone past, and the use of light in the drawing seems to signify hope and the possibility of what lies ahead. It feels poignant, weighty and uplifting all at the same time. State of mind: Hope
Dorota Jedrusik, (+-) 020
There are really fluid, energetic marks and forms within this image. It seems unrecognisable as the depiction of something in particular, however, it evokes an emotive response in me. It has a positive influence and yet also invokes a feeling of something just out of reach, as though this piece opens up a subconscious doorway in me – enabling me to step forwards within myself to expand who I was before I engaged with the image. State of mind: exploratory
So,’is it the image, the medium or the act that brought the art work into being that makes it excessive or expressionist? or is it all of these and more? How is a drawing able to act as an emotional conduit between artist and viewer?’
Having looked at various pieces of work with these questions in mind, I feel that there is no way of taking the artist out of the equation. The intentionality is the key, the basis for everything. It informs the artist how to work, what to work with, how to achieve their aims – it is an internal process that is embodied within their art, and without it the depth of substance would be missing.
Yes, the artist’s choice of medium is vital to the success of a piece, as is the way the piece has been created. However, neither of these things would be possible without the artist, and we are drawn back again to acknowledge that their intention sets the foundation for it all.
I feel we are seeing eye to eye with the artist when we really engage with a piece of their work. We come together, we meet, there is an unexplained exchange of energy, and as we then part we are left with that imprint in us – the energetic message has been conveyed from the artist, via the conduit (the art) and we are then left to create our response in accordance with the life experience that has shaped us up until that moment. Yes, there are lots of factors that go to make up the success of a piece of art – however, it is something deep within us that is connecting with something deep within the artist when a piece of work moves us or reaches out to us in ways we can’t consciously understand.
Therefore, I feel that the ability to reach out and convey emotion via a piece of art is mostly in connection with the artists intent. The act of creation and the meaning behind it, with the medium simply being an extension of that. When I visited the garden at the Barbara Hepworth studio in St Ives I was overwhelmed. It was a pure experience of the artist using the art form as a conduit for the expression of something intangibly deep. I was incredibly moved and the message from being with her sculptures was one that went to the core of my being. There was no intellectual involvement, no thought, just pure experience that measured how I received her creative offering. Something I would never have expected and still am unable to define in an intellectual way – it was an intrinsic response – feeling the echo of her work in myself and indeed as part of myself.
This research has been incredibly valuable for me. It has enabled me to really connect with the extreme importance of intention. I don’t’ think I had really realised just how crucial a part it plays in the creation of every single piece of work – and how engaging with that within myself now creates a whole new scope for potential. The concept that the artwork is a conduit really connects with my idea of what I imagine art to be. It all feels incredibly exciting.