Category Archives: Ink

Detail of abstract minimalist collage & drawing by David Smith

Abstract Drawings For Dummies I: The Tiny Section of My Soul

Abstract minimalist collage & drawing by David Smith

“Abstract Drawings for Dummies I The Tiny Section of My Soul”
Collage, ink, erased graphite, print and acrylic on Snowdon cartridge 59cm x 84cm

This piece, Abstract Drawings For Dummies I: The Tiny Section of My Soul marks the start of two series of work: Abstract Drawings For Dummies and 50 Collages Before Christmas. I had been adding small sections of collage into my erasure and redaction drawings and decided to include text – something I did quite a bit in drawings 45 years ago (including erasing the words and writing what I had done!) and occasionally more recently during my #Collage 365 and #Letter365 projects. I have always had a leaning towards the surreal and absurd with a bit of tongue-in-cheek conceptual thrown in. Influences from cartoons and illustrations, exploded diagrams and information boards, maps and instruction books and much, much more form a lattice of lunacy in my brain. Lay on to this the soft spot I have for Frank Zappa, Bonzo Dog, David Byrne, Laurie Anderson and other slightly odd (and some other decidedly, very odd) music it is not surprising this kind of thing will surface in my work from time to time. The series title Abstract Drawings For Dummies obviously refers to the hugely successful series of “how to” books. The books are, in my experience, well-written and of a high standard and the use of “for dummies” is in no way demeaning or patronising. By using “Dummies” the publishers are signalling to ordinary people they don’t need to feel threatened by experts and that everyone is quite capable of attaining a working knowledge of the subject of the book. Most abstract artists are continually asked to explain what their work is about and during my #Letter365 project where the artwork was sealed unseen into an envelope and sold “blind” I was particularly strongly questioned. At that time I devised a series of works that might help people find a way into art they were not readily comfortable with: works which have instructions, directions and explanations as part of the composition. This new series is planned towards the realisation of that idea. It also features some of the convoluted workings of my brain which had a small opportunity for expression, sometimes quite wittily, on the envelopes of #Letter365.

As I was clearly fired up to do all manner of work I chose the moment of completing this piece to commit to 50 Collages Before Christmas too.

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

Open Studio this August Bank Holiday weekend

Image of artist's studio

Corner of my studio

The first two days of Bridport Open Studios saw a steady stream of interested visitors and some good sales – and that was after me not really being set up properly. It’s a little more organised now and who knows, I might even be able to say I was ready! I am pleased to be showing a wide range of my work including new work on canvas, erasure drawings, field drawings, new watercolour pieces and a range of small “affordable” studies. I have aslo set aside some space for a selection of #Collage365 work

#Collage365 work in the studio

A selection of #Collage365 is on show at the studio during Bridport Open Studios

I also have some concertina books for sake too:

Small studies and artit's books at my studio

Small studies and artit’s books at my studio

Good response to my work at Bridport Open Studios

Outfall 2 - drawing in ink and watercolour by David Smith

Outfall 2
Ink & watercolour on paper
559mm × 762mm

I have been pleased with the quality of visitors to my Open Studios this weekend. Most people have displayed a keen interest in my work and I’ve enjoyed meeting new people and talking about art. I’m also pleased that I have sold something each day – including today when I was technically not open! A visitor over the weekend called this morning to say they had decided to by “Outfall 2”, the piece pictured above. It’s quite a special piece for me and I am delighhted it has found an appreciative home.

I have also sold some of the small studies I framed up and another larger piece, “You Were Born And So You’re Free”

Abstract minimalist drawing by David Smith

You Were Born And So You’re Free
Ink on Somerset paper 559mm × 762mm

Abstract graphite drawing by david Smith

“Double Erasure – that soft spot in my heart”
Multiply-erased graphite drawing on Canaletto paper 500mm x 700mm

It’s that time again and now I have a studio at St Michael’s in Bridport town centre it would be foolish of me not to open up and join in Bridport Open Studios. Since completing my #Letter365 project I have been busy catching up on a couple of years’ neglect in the garden but I have also been getting on with new work.

Black square collage by David Smith

Thermopylae (not as black as you think)
Collage, acrylic & ink on board 306mm x 306mm

I completed the erasure drawing I was talking about earlier (shown above) and have been working on black squares (as usual not always black, not always square!) and various field pieces. Some of the field pieces are on canvas! That’s the first time I have used canvas or completed a piece on canvas for 43 years! (It has been interesting!) I aim to add images of some of this work in the next few days.

I have also been moved to return to using wet-in-wet watercolour again and have been creating large field pieces, starting a new series of work under the working title of “The Stone Archive – Fields of Oblivion”. I will post some of these later too, including some small pieces I have framed up especially for Bridport Open Studios. These small nicely-framed pieces are designed as affordable introductions to my work and would make great gifts for loved ones or yourself! They are the sort of things people point to in my sketchbooks and say, “Ooh, that’s nice!” Since I have been working on larger sheets than my sketchbooks when I am trying out some ideas (especially the watercolour and acrylic stuff as I can do more while the paint dries) I thought I would isolate some of the ones that work best and frame them for sale.

As usual there is a “6×9” show to accompany Bridport Open Studios. This year it occupies the foyer and cafe at Bridport Arts Centre and I have entered some specially made pieces that explore my current themes and, some, move into new territory. The show opens on Wednesday 19 August and runs till 18 September after which it transfers to Black Swan Arts at Frome.

You can find details of my opening hours etc on the Bridport Open Studios website

I Forgot Who Said That

I Forgot Who Said That - ink & watercolur drwaing by David Smith

I Forgot Who Said That
Ink and watercolour on Saunders Waterford paper 559mm × 762mm

I finally managed to finish this drawing a few days ago. It is the first of many that I hoped to do while working within my #Letter365 installation at Bridport Arts Centre. I am only managing to get there for a couple of hours a day and mostly I get involved with talking with visitors for some part of the time. I have started another piece but will finish that at the studio because the table I am working on is not wide enough to accommodate imperial size paper longways and there is a lip round the table edge that means the paper doesn’t lie flat. But I have another two weeks so may gat more done and I have gathered lots of ideas.

This piece, I Forgot Who Said That, is one of my field drawings but using a more colourful palette than my usual black and white. Although firmly based in the repetitive, compartmentalised grid structure of pieces such as Aleph’s Flux or The Dream’s Malfunction – and I have done some small-scale test pieces in this style – the more rounded marks are influenced by the stains of fresh-sawn logs on the Allsop Gallery floorboards left from the show What Remains – an installation by And Now back in September-October 2014

Composite image of some stains on the Allsop Gallery floor caused by fresh cut logs in a previous installation

Composite image of some stains on the Allsop Gallery floor caused by fresh cut logs in a previous installation

I am aiming to do some more work related to these stains and the lines between the boards, but I’ll have to get a move on. Below is a detail of I Forgot Who Said That to compare and see how it may have been influenced more than I may have thought:

Detail of "I Forgot Who Said That" watercolour and ink drawing by David Smith

I Forgot Who Said That (detail)

Envoy

Envoy - watercolour and ink drawing by David Smith

Envoy
Watercolour and ink on Indian hand-made, recycled-cotton paper 559mm × 762mm

I have had this knocking around the studio for months and have finally resolved it. The paper is quite interesting to work with. It is Jackson’s own-brand “eco-friendly” 100% cotton, handmade paper from India. It is made from recycled cotton, each sheet being individually set into the moulds and then dried in the Indian sun. I like that these papers made in small moulds which means each sheet has 4 deckle edges in  1/4, 1/2 and Imperial sizes, so each sheet is unique and individual. Most sheets have got thumb or finger prints on. It doesn’t cut or tear cleanly because it has threads of cotton in and the surface is really fragile so no scrubbing and rubbing! Show it low-tack masking tape and it falls apart and sticking it on the wall with white tack is likely to tear a hole out of it. The surface absorbancy is completely random, the texture is variable and the colour is different from batch to batch. In many ways it is rubbish paper: so for me it is brilliant! I have to be either 100% certain what I want and hope it works or give myself over totally to its whims

The Prophesy Restated selected for Drawn 2015

The Prophesy Restated - Ink and watercolour drawing by David Smith

The Prophesy Restated
Ink and watercolour on Saunders Waterford paper 559m × 762m

I am pleased to announce that my ink and watercolour drawing The Prophesy Restated has been selected for the RWA Drawn 2015 exhibition. It is the largest of a series I was doing at the end of last year. I am still interested in investigating the theme further now that I am a little freer to work on more complex and larger field drawings. This small success means that I will be exhibiting in Bristol for the first time and will have two shows running at the same time with my solo installation #Letter365 running at Bridport Arts Centre until 11 April.