Category Archives: Graphite

The forecast is more erasure!

Image of drawing in the process of being erased

Erasure in progress

I have been doing more erased drawings and feel there is plenty more that I want to explore in the area of partial deletion, redaction, becoming unseen. So I expect there will be a lot of eraser dust to deal with in the coming weeks. Featured below are a few pieces I have finished recently and am happy with. The first I have called “Double Erasure: Winter Field”. It continues the tidal theme of “Double Erasure – that soft spot in my heart” but connects back to some of my earliest field drawings.

Double Erasure: Winter Field - drawing on paper by David Smith

“Double Erasure: Winter Field”
Multiply erased graphite on Canaletto paper 495mm x 695mm

The second is a reprise of a piece I did for the secret sale to support Bridport Arts Centre but in larger format. That earlier one was called “We two erased black squares together clinging” so this one is “We two erased black squares together clinging too”

We two erased black squares together clinging too - erased pencil drawing by David Smith

“We two erased black squares together clinging too”
Erased pencil on Canaletto paper 302mm x 216mm

I have also been exploring the use of colour with erased drawings, using ink, watercolour and or Inktense pencils over the erased graphite, as can be seen in this detail from “Ashes and embers”

"Ashes and embers" drawing in watercolour and ink on erased graphite on Saunders Waterford paper by David Smith

“Ashes and embers”
Watercolour and ink on erased graphite on Saunders Waterford paper

The whole thing looks like this:

"Ashes and embers" Watercolour and ink on erased graphite on Saunders Waterford paper by David Smith

“Ashes and embers”
Watercolour and ink on erased graphite on Saunders Waterford paper 381mm x 559mm

And another similar exploration:

"Otherwise unseen" Watercolour and ink on erased graphite on Saunders Waterford paper by David Smith

“Otherwise unseen”
Watercolour and ink on erased graphite on Saunders Waterford paper 381mm x 559mm

Further experiments with erasure

Tissue paper over drawing by David Smith

Tissue paper lain over the almost completed double erasure drawing (detail)

I am increasingly interested in the idea of veiling work so the viewer has to work harder to see what they are looking at and have used semi-opaque papers in collages to mute and soften images below. I am considering using etched and frosted glass in front of some pieces, in particular some black square ideas that are 3D or relief pieces. The image above was totally by chance when I covered the erasure drawing I was doing with tissue to protect it till I returned to make any final adjustments. I am certainly tempted to experiment with more veiling, maybe with silk voile or cotton muslin. Perhaps I should go the whole hog and use black perspex or something totally opaque like black-sprayed metal to cover work?

Last year the show I had in Ramsgate was called “The Seen and the Unseen”. That refered partly to #Letter365 being sold unseen but also to the fact that my work is designed to make the eye unsure of what it is actually seeing (amongst other invisible aspects). During the #Letter365 process I had a number of conversations with people who liked the idea of never opening the letters and Schrödinger’s Cat was mentioned on a number of the envelopes and in many conversations.

So much of my work has been inspired by the sea’s marks on the shore and the transient and uncontrollable nature of our existence. It could be said that much of my work is an attempt to freeze a record of those unseen forces at play in the littoral landscape and my mind and emotions. Perhaps my work should move towards even more conceptual and ephemeral work?

For now, I have this piece to finish off. I have not seen it for a few days and other issues may arise when I do, but the biggest question I had when I left it was “how much do I clean up the edges and how big a border”? Of course it still needs a signature, which will, of course, be erased!

Detail of edge of erased drawing by David Smith

How much cleaning up at the edges of this erased drawing should I do?

Erasure drawings

Erased black square 1 - drawing by David Smith

Erased black square 1
Pencil and eraser on Canaletto paper

It may seem odd that my work on black squares and my Tidelines theme are intimately linked but it is all a continuum. This latest phase – erasing and redrawing and erasing again for as many times as necessary to get the effect I want – mirrors the tide’s twice-daily erasing of the sand patterns and debris on the beach; rubbed out but leaving a trace of the history of previous times and tides. I am experimenting with various surfaces. These featured are on 300gsm Canaletto paper. It is thick enough not to buckle and stretch too much and robust enough to take repeated erasure yet still soft enough to hold the indentation of an HB pencil.

Deatial of paper surface

Detail of surface after repeated erasing and redrawing

I have chosen to use traditional pencils rather than a clutch pencil because it allows a greater degree of chaos to enter the mix. The sharpness wearing to bluntness and my reaction to it in the marks I make, plus the length of the pencil affecting my grip on it as it gets shorter, are important elements in the content of the works.

Drawing by David Smith

Erased black square 2

The piece I began today (detail below) is on a full sheet of Canaletto paper 500mm x 700mm on which I have created a semi-accurate ruled grid. I am using what I believe to be HB pencils that were liberated from conference rooms at various hotels 20 years ago – knew they would come in handy! I may have to buy some more as they are disappearing at an alarming rate. In future drawings I may use harder pencils depending on what the surface of chosen paper suggests. For the first layer I am trying to be pretty loose and not get into my usual rythmns and shapes. I am listening to Soft Machine and at times using my left hand. Once this “ground” has been established, with the general shape and form of the piece tentatively mapped in, I will be more controlled about the marks I make after each successive erasure.

Start of a graphite erasure drawing by David Smith

First layer of marks (detail) on an as yet untitled erasure drawing