Over on the HB Drawing website, I wrote about a drawing and meditation retreat I went on with three other HB members in Italy. The Drawing Breath retreat, led by artist Tania Kovats and psychotherapist and life-long meditator Jane Sassienie, involved meditating, walking and drawing, as you would expect. The place was lovely.
And we experimented with different drawing exercises: drawing each other’s faces, drawing with the breath, drawing each day at the same place, life drawing … studying Piero della Francesca’s Madonna del Parto in nearby Monterchi.
On the flight over, I was thinking about what I hoped to get from the retreat and I realised that I had lost confidence in my drawing. Oddly, this was a reaction to reflecting on how comfortable I was reconnecting with my felt practice. Originally my main reason for doing the MA was to enable me to develop a sustainable textile practice. When I returned to felt-making, I found that the experience with and confidence in my materials and craft skills was now supported by my research and analytical ability. I was aware that I make felt in a freer, more intuitive, less tight way than I draw. And I didn’t like it. It seemed like I couldn’t do what I wanted with drawing, the way I can with fibre.
During the retreat I discovered that actually I can draw (!) and, as important, I enjoy it. One of the things I especially enjoy is drawing in different ways with different materials. I don’t think I have a recognisable style, but I don’t think I do with textiles either. And that’s fine. What’s important is that I can use materials and methods to convey what’s in my head.
So as Tania Kovats asked me: why don’t I try making drawings the way I make felt?
When I make felt, I start with my big laundry bag of leftover prefelts; I select bits that I somehow feel might be right; I cut them up; add more fibre; add threads and usually small bits of fabric and start to build new pieces to play with. But, I protested, I don’t really have a stash of left-over drawings; I don’t know where to start.
Well, you can guess what happened when I went home and pulled out all my old drawings that are sitting around doing nothing. It turns out I might just have enough to work with. Watch this space …