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crayon

SketchbookScribble.09.Buziak.2

I’ve had three Canson A3 (appx. 16 x 12 inches in size) 100-page sketchbooks “on the go” since early 2013, two of them more or less filled now with what I think of as “expressive abstractions” using acrylic paint, watercolour, Conté crayon, soft pastel and oil-crayon… sometimes combining more than one as in mixed-media.

Around a dozen have been for sale on my ETSY shop https://www.etsy.com/shop/SketchBuzz? for the past year amongst other works (around 40 pieces to date) with compositions and colour combinations more easy on the eye, as well as larger pieces of more recognisable subjects… and four, maybe five, have sold… although not anything resembling the above scribble.

I use the word “scribble” because that is what this is… daubs of different acrylic colours with wax crayon overlaid afterward, all in random strokes which, now I can recall more clearly, was one of more than a dozen similar works made shortly before my wife died last November after a very lengthy illness. Was I influenced, or frustrated, by what was happening in my personal life? Probably!

When I try to do similar work now – by allowing my mind and hand to wander in sympathy, although not necessarily synchronicity – I’m hesitant and feel I cannot achieve the same freedom. At the moment the only conclusion I can come to is that artistic scribbling is not very easy to do… despite what casual viewers will imply when mentioning their children’s primary school efforts during art lessons.

But I know there is more to it than that, and a number of artists have achieved world-wide fame, or notoriety, with artwork which has evolved in styles which baffle many people… there being nothing new with that when one considers how Impressionism, or many of the other -isms, created shock and horror at the time because they changed and challenged the accepted safe concepts of art. However, two artists I admire greatly are Joan Mitchell and Cy Twombly…

Notes from TheArtStory.org… “Joan Mitchell is known for the compositional rhythms, bold coloration, and sweeping gestural brushstrokes of her large and often multi-paneled paintings. Inspired by landscape, nature, and poetry, her intent was not to create a recognizable image, but to convey emotions. Mitchell’s early success in the 1950s was striking at a time when few women artists were recognized. She referred to herself as the “last Abstract Expressionist,” and she continued to create abstract paintings until her death in 1992.

Inspired by the gestural painting of Willem de Kooning and Franz Kline, Joan Mitchell’s mature work comprised a highly abstract, richly colored, calligraphic manner, which balanced elements of structured composition with a mood of wild improvisation.

Mitchell rejected the emphasis on flatness and the “all-over” approach to composition that were prevalent among many of the leading Abstract Expressionists. Instead, she preferred to retain a more traditional sense of figure and ground in her pictures, and she often composed them in ways that evoked impressions of landscape.

Mitchell’s abrasive personality has been a key factor in interpretations of her painting, which critics often read as expressions of rage and violence. Yet, almost as often, they have seen lyricism in her work.”

And from CyTwombly.info… “Some writers have concentrated on the materiality of the artist’s mark as aggressive, often illegible graffiti; others have followed the classical allusions to ferret out the references. Two elements might serve as metaphors for the predominant interpretations… However, Twombly’s painterly palimpsests trace the progressions through which form and content, text and image are inextricably linked.

Cy Twombly arrived in Manhattan in 1950 while the New York School painting of Pollock and de Kooning was in full swing. Upon Robert Rauschenberg’s encouragement, Twombly joined him for the 1951–1952 sessions at Black Mountain College near Asheville, North Carolina – a liberal refuge, a site of free experimentation and exchange in a nation growing increasingly conservative during the Cold War. Among the influential teachers present at this time were Charles Olson, Franz Kline, Robert Motherwell and John Cage. Building on the freedom afforded by the previous generation, the younger artists emphasised libidinal energy integrated through experience.

They focused attention on calligraphic gesture and word/image relationships resulting in work that was more syncretic, less spontaneously automatist.In the statement, Twombly describes his process: “Each line is now the actual experience with its own innate history. It does not illustrate – it is the sensation of its own realisation.”

With their works achieving millions at auction, can I put mine on ETSY or Saatchi Art, my two sales sites, for a hundred or so dollars? Or, as Malcolm Gladwell in “Outliers” wrote, “…researchers have settled on what they believe is the magic number for true expertise: ten thousand hours.” do I need to do those 10,000 hours of pure, creative and expressive work before I can get away with my scribbles? There are many creative types who think you do, and the Ten Thousand Hours website at http://www.10khrs.co show this with a recorded interview series about craft, creativity and putting in our time.

Image © 2014 Ed Buziak

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Honesty.Sketch1.Buziak

Today’s artwork offering is again from the distant past – an 18 x 14 inch drawing dated 1965 from my Manchester art college days. This is an abstract interpretation of a few dried seed pods of the Honesty flower “Lunaria annua”. The seed heads when seen on the plant after flowering in the garden resemble translucent ovals and are often called “Moon Flower”. I arranged this simple still-life in a jar… but instead of looking at and drawing it from a more traditional side-on angle, I chose a viewpoint directly above, thus looking down vertically onto the subject.

Note from Wikipedia… “The Latin name lunaria means “moon-shaped” and refers to the shape and appearance of the seedpods. The common name “honesty” arose in the 16th century, and may also relate to the translucence of the seedpods. In South East Asia, it is called the “money plant” and in the United States it is commonly known as “silver dollars”, “Chinese money”, or “Chinese coins” because its seedpods have the appearance of silvery coins. For the same reason, in French it is known as monnaie du pape (“the Pope’s money”). In Denmark it is known as judaspenge and in Dutch-speaking countries as judaspenning (coins of Judas), an allusion to the story of Judas Iscariot and the thirty pieces of silver he was paid for betraying Christ.”

I also chose to interpret the still-life as a ‘negative’ image (perhaps my latent interest in black-and-white photography was making itself known) and after drawing the outlines of the overlapping seed heads in green, I filled-in – with much rubbing and blending of the colours with my finger-tips – the spaces surrounding the outlines of the seeds with a mélange of medium and dark brown soft pastel crayons from the Dutch Talens “Rembrandt” range which I bought from an art shop opposite the college, and many of which I still have and use today… and, although initially expensive, what a good investment they proved to be!

Image © 2014 Ed Buziak

"Shatter #2" ~ Ed Buziak (2012)

"Shatter #2" ~ Ed Buziak (2012)

The above piece is one of a new and ongoing series of works using Conté Carrés (square) hard crayons on intentionally folded papers. There is almost a necessity to view these folded works with side-lighting so the three-dimensional nature of the folded paper reveals itself with the subtle tonal changes between the random angular planes in either light or shadow depending on the direction of the light.

I have worked with Conté Carrés crayons since my art college days back in 1962. From the Blick materials website http://www.dickblick.com/products/conte-crayons/

  • “Invented in France in 1795 by Nicolas-Jacques Conté especially for drawing and sketching, Conté Crayons are made from a blend of natural pigments, kaolin clay, and graphite. The Conté crayon has been used by many of the world’s greatest artists, including Picasso, Delacroix, and Degas.
  • The rich, vivid colors of Conté Crayons mix together nicely, and a range of effects can be consistently produced. They are well suited for use on newsprint, bristol, toned paper or heavily grained surfaces. Their rich opacity makes them ideal for work on darker papers and their quality ensures the longevity of drawings. Conté crayons are waxier and much firmer than soft pastels, so they produce little dust and are easy to control.”

My Conté crayons date from the 1930s and belonged to my wife’s uncle George who was a noted local artist in Devon between the two World Wars. I also use his extensive sets of Rembrandt soft pastels as well as a cache of assorted art papers of various tints and textures… all probably unavailable nowadays if I need to purchase more sheets to continue certain themes.

The variation in tone and pattern of the individual black and white crayon strokes was made by using the underlying texture of the corrugated “cardboard packaging” backing sheet I worked on and changing the angle of media to backing sheets between each application of line.

Image © 2012 Ed Buziak

“Crowd Scene #1” ~ Ed Buziak (2012)

This image is close to the final stage of my first piece of artwork for 2012. I’ve been working on it for a couple of weeks and this view reflects how I’ve been destroying the original patches of color and crayon strokes. The work is being done with Talens “Rembrandt” soft pastels on Arches Platine paper and measures 30 x 22 inches (77 x 56 cms)… if anyone is perhaps thinking of it for their wall!

I have long admired the dynamic use of color in the works of Scottish artist Alan Davie (I bought one of his lithographs “Celtic Dreamboat II” in the early ’70s which I still have); and that of Bernard Cohen whose work I also bought a small example of again in the ’70s but which was unfortunately destroyed by a careless UK removals firm when we came to France a decade ago. Bernard Cohen’s involved use of complex line being almost hypnotically absorbing and sometimes, despite my implied effect, being soothing as one may feel when exploring a maze with time on your hands but no fear of getting lost in the dark.

And then there is Jackson Pollock  whose paintings defined a new Abstract Expressionist movement in American modern art in the 1940/50s. As his work has sold for as much as $140,000,000 – to a Mexican tycoon – the only chance of his work in my hands is a book or exhibition catalog! Pollock’s technique of pouring and dripping paint is thought to be one of the origins of the term “action painting” and with this technique, Pollock was able to achieve a more immediate means of creating art, the paint literally flowing from his chosen tools and containers onto the canvas which he walked and danced across at times.

The impression I am trying to communicate is one of a very crowded thoroughfare, seen from above, with an uncountable number of people coming and going about their business but with a sense of chaos. It is an imaginative scene I dread being caught up in, in reality… having not visited a city of any real size for more than 25 years… and on that occasion when I got near the center, I turned around and retreated to my distant, but calm, village abode.

**I will update this page when I have decided the piece is finished… and has been signed.

** This is now for sale on Saatchi Online for $900… http://www.saatchionline.com/art/Drawing-Pastel-Crowd-Scene-1-2012/395193/1474067/view

Image © 2012 Ed Buziak

Red Chairs ~ Ed Buziak (1977)

I have been drawing seats, sofas and chairs since studying at art college in the early ’60s. I have also been reworking some old ideas including this drawing dating from 1977. I can’t remember who the furniture designer was (Pier Giacomo and Achille Castiglioni perhaps?) but I liked the curves very much and the sometimes smooth, sometimes confusing mélange of overlapping shapes.

In this working study the shapes on the paper background were drawn with a soft 4B lead pencil whilst the overlapping shapes on semi-opaque tracing paper were drawn in red and yellow crayon. Using a semi-opaque overlay I was able to make drastic changes in the overall design by rotating the support through one or more 90 degree steps – or even reversing the tracing paper – and also make slight changes with millimeter by millimeter shifts in vertical, horizontal and/or diagonal alignment.

Image © 1977 Ed Buziak

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