I have been thinking a lot about drawing this term. I use drawing as a way of making immediate (and often spontaneous) connections between ideas.

I often don’t know what the subject of the drawing actually is until after it has appeared on the paper. And even then, sometimes the drawing shifts in perspective as I move on to other works.

It is a process that requires relinquishing control.

soap cone

Soap Cone, coffee lift etching

This term I have been learning a process called coffee lift etching. By doing this I have learnt a lot about my drawing process as a whole, a very useful thing since drawing is one of my main research methodologies.

As many of my art teachers at school would testify, I was a frustrating young pupil to work with. I would shun any suggestion of giving weight to the object I was drawing, preferring instead to leave my subject hanging suspended in their own universe, free of the confines of gravity.

I suppose I have continued with this approach well into my adult life now. Most of my drawings are almost diagrammatical. They are flat; floating on the surface of the page. This is at least partly because I draw from imagination so that I can form connections between ideas more easily, but also because I’m drawn to the idea of creating scientific diagrams using aescientific methods.

However recently the first tentative landscapes have been appearing in my drawings. Usually in the form of mountains.

I’m still in the process of working this foreign desire to include landscape out, so I was hesitant when the print technician who has been helping me to learn the etching process suggested I might like to provide a context for my Soap Cone in order to provide necessary tonal contrast.

Looking at my proof print above, I’m pretty pleased with the result; a hovering haze of a horizon line that hints at infinity.

He also suggested that it might be useful to add stronger shading on the soap itself to give a more rounded form, and perhaps a shadow falling onto the ground. Interestingly the prospect of this filled me with a mild form of dread which I have now been contemplating for some time.

I’m very interested in the concept of shadow. A type of liminal presence, sometimes noticed, sometimes forgotten. Something we are used to but occasionally might be afraid of too… yes. I think it will be necessary to return to the idea of the shadow soon.

Working and re working my etching plate has enabled me to reflect on my drawing process in a way that is not usually possible when I am creating my pen and ink drawings.  So far print-making has provided a valuable counterpoint to my usual spontaneous method, and I can see its potential as an anchor point which could help me make further discoveries about the drawing process in the future.

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