Thursday, August 23, 2018

A vine branches wildly...

This year in CLMOOC (Connected Learning MOOC) I have been tagging along with the doodling in July and August.

What I like about it is the low stress challenge of regularly creating some sort of artistic image which is shared with others in the community.

In past editions I have taken time to explore digital image manipulation applications or digital drawing/painting applications.

This year I started concentrating on finding the limits of what I could draw with my fingers on an iPhone and then playing digitally with resulting output.

Generally speaking such "creations" are very fast. A few seconds or a few minutes of scribbling on a screen and then I share.

Speed in a sense was of essence...

Then I got fed up with the facility of it all.

If, actually drawing on a small screen with a finger isn't that easy - it's fiddly, it's quick to get effect.

I got fed up of fiddling and then swiping and clicking.

If "connected", it felt like I was disconnected from the world around.

Is that what being in jail feels...I wonder.

Are we being fiddled for effect?

Quick sale...long retraction...

Clearing out the cellar

We were clearing out the cellar.

I came across an old artist's box which was falling to bits and covered with dust. I repaired it's warped veneer, sharpened a couple of ancient pencils, tried to soften up the paint brushes, inspected the pastels, looked wistfully at the child's watercolor set and sat down in the garden to draw a vine.

That vine attracted me on a number of levels: its form, its colour, its texture, its history, its rootedness.

A vine branches wildly.

I got taken up in the intricacy of the vine's winding, I found myself drawing and redrawing its elipses, eyeing up its angles, and got altogether wound up in how the vine had grown.

It doesn't look much of a drawing but I spent a fair old time in communion with that familiar yet unfamiliar plant.

I could have photographed it in an instant and ignored it.

I would have had no relationship with it to talk about.

I realise what I have been missing in recent times.

I had serious longterm relationships with trees, rocks and mountains.

I would lose myself exploring their textures with my fingers.

We had history.

That beaten up artist's box...

I would lose myself for hours drawing on scraps of paper, smudging the charcoal, the pastels, the pencil shading.

Art, I feel, is an intimate relationship with one's surroundings, with one's fellow beings.

Finally it's only when one really loses oneself a good while that one may find oneself.

I came back and redrew the shape of the trunk (does one say trunk for a vine?) out of pleasure for its form.

I came back and started a close study of its offshoots, its cracks, its cut and tutored branches.

After a few minutes the heat of the sun forced me to seek shade.

Sun-lounger, feeling the heat...

I turned my attention to a turquoise cushion and orange towel on a sun lounger.

It was the colour which got me, the colour and the light, then the cushioning.

The child's watercolour set was set awash with wet brush.

I rediscovered the care one must take with the flow of water, gravity, pigment intensity.

I rediscovered the joy of scribble, shade, smudge, time, taking time.

Whilst the digital gives me rapid effect, the old artist's box brings me affect.

I feel my breath, a little breeze behind me and I pause for thought.

Touched by vines, cushions, sun on my back, my daughter sitting over there on a sofa, I am given time to contemplate....

From clicks to contemplation.


  1. I've enjoyed looking at your posts for the past couple of months and could see a growing level of time commitment put into doing these. I wish I had such time, but need to focus on the graphics I create for my own efforts to change the world by changing the availability of support systems for kids in high poverty.

    I love the STELLER booklet. That looks like you could publish it. I'm inspired to try to borrow the idea to share collections of my own graphics. Need to figure out how you did this, first.

    I uploaded a video this morning to YouTube in which I used a screen capture tool to show an animation done by two college interns in the late 2000s. When they did it there was no voice-over. Last year as I realized that Adobe Flash was no longer supported on many browsers I started to create videos to archive the work, using my phone camera. That did not work for this one. I think the screen capture did. Here's the link.

    I'm sharing this because as I look at the creativity you and others put into your #clmooc doodles I dream of having such talent applied to making new versions and interpretations of my own graphics, and the projects done by interns working with me in past years.

    You, Terry and Kevin have each done a bit of this. I hope you'll apply the new talents you're developing to do more.

  2. Well I have been on holiday so that helps to have more time ;-) I shall take a look at your graphics and see what I think. We and future generations will have many problems of file format obsolescence (as before with 8 track stereo, kodak film etc) With the wealth of your content I wonder if there wouldn’t be universities who might benefit from your work and its translation into newer formats? With Santosh in Nepal he also has a problem with translation of his content into forms which can have impact.