The blank page.

The blank page is well known for evoking feelings of fear as well as possibility. I’ve recently moved to a new city, with the aim of dedicating more of my time to making art, as a result I’ve experienced a lot of blank pages and spaces in the last two weeks!  I thought I’d share a little of that experience.

‘Blanks’ I’ve recently encountered include this blog, various sketchbooks (for me there’s something significant about the first drawing in a new place) and a new studio space.  I’ve mostly tried not to overthink things – to make a mark, any mark and go from there. I particularly like this quote from David Horvitz, an American artist, which reflects that same feeling.

David Horvitz quote.

I left my first blog post for posterity – I think it’s important to show the rough scribbles around the edges and that nothing starts as a fully formed thing. In my new studio space I was in such a rush to make the space mine, that I forgot to take a ‘before’ photo. Instead the first thing I did was blu-tack up a handful of pictures I’d brought with me – some my own work and some not. All just images I like a lot. And lastly I went along to a lifedrawing group on my third day in the city. Having two minutes to draw a naked man leaves no time for overthinking! Below you can see some of the images on my studio wall and a 15 minute sketch of said life model.

New studio space.

I think my rush to put up images is really a quest to surround myself with interesting source materials – jumping off points for my work. The things you can see in shot are:

  • Picture of Frida Kahlo, less for the artistic reference, but more as I had it up on my kitchen wall in London for a long time. Gives me a nice feeling of home.
  • Picture of man carrying a giant tube of paint. This image has tickled me for a long time. I only recently looked at it more closely and discovered it was Claes Oldenburg, some of whose work I recently saw in the Museum of Contemporary Art, MOCA in Los Angeles. Some amazing oversized papier maché pieces. Who doesn’t need a giant papier maché olive in their life?!
  • Some of my watercolours from a recent trip to Paxos. A reminder of my summer obsession with Greek pots.
  • Some photos from the North coast of Spain, the wild, rugged coast of Asturias. Taken with an old disposable camera
  • A vibrant colourful David Hockney landscape, ripped out of a magazine. Because you can never go wrong with a Hockney
  • A postcard of a screenprint I bought years ago at Somerset House, simply because I like the last few words: “One Step Was All I Had To Take ..” Thinking a bit more, I suppose I like them because of that sense of possibility, which relates nicely to this post about blank pages!

So with just a handful of bits of paper, I have lots of routes into new work. The blank page no longer looks so scary and instead more like a landscape of possibilities waiting to happen.