Saturday, 7 January 2012

Fast Art -v- Slow Art

I was coming back from Perth this morning, on the bus, thinking about Fast Art/Slow Art as a concept comparable to fast food and slow food.  In the UK the concept of slow food has developed over the last 10 years.  We all know that fast food is convenient when you are hungry, but that it is usually rubbish, high fat and sugar, and often promoted as a cheap, quick fix, by manipulative marketing.  At present there is an advertising campaign on Australian TV that promotes fast food chicken (yuk) and every time the battered product is shown, the word "fresh" appears on the screen.  The deceitful advertisers are using subliminal messaging to give us the idea that a heavily processed product is "fresh" (which is linked with healthy in our minds) when what the image shows is a freshly fried, fast food product, which is not "fresh" at all.  Anyway I'll get off my soapbox.

As a contrast, slow food is often artisan produced, high quality craftsman food - like slow matured cheese, organic products, hand-made slow risen bread, local home grown vegetables.  These products are often more expensive and mean that you need to eat less volume as it is more sustaining.

I think of how I produce my art in the same way.  The images I produce need time to mature.  My first images on a theme could easily be the ones I decide to utilise.  Last semester, I was learning how to create a repeat pattern.  I produced a 6m length of fabric of eucalyptus leaves and gum nuts, with which I was quite pleased.  But looking back now, I had developed the concept reasonably well, linking australian plants and my father's Alzheimers' disease, but I failed dismally to develop the artistic style which I used to produce it.  I used the first interpretation of the repeat design and the first interpretation of filling the shapes with flat colour. 

Now I am in the Drawing Summer School, I can see so many more ways of creating an exciting design from that concept.  I'm not going to rework it, but use the reflection to progress my future work in other ways. It is about 24 hours since I finished class yesterday, and I seem to have spent hours thinking about how to use the line exercise to develop my printmaking skills.  I have read the class specification and we have our first assessment after the second class!  The line exercise is one that is worth experimenting with - using charcoal, and maybe oil marker.  I want a product that will give a textured variable mark, because the line that I use for my prints is often required to define the edge and surrounding area to create a shape.  I don't want just a thin line (which is what I used in my Pattern & Meaning class). This is my artistic equivalent of fast food - it was quick and available. I want a line that varies in thickness and texture to give depth in an overlaid pattern.  And looking at my sketchbook work with banksia leaves, I often use cross-hatching to give definition to the edge of a shape, but I am overusing this technique.  There are more interesting ways of doing it.

The oil marker that I have is a clear one.  Other people in the Pattern & Meaning class were given the coloured or black markers.  But the clear oil marker has other qualities.  I enjoy using ink and bleach to get positive and negative effects, and I think that if I try the clear oil marker for the line exercise, and apply either Quink ink (water soluble) or indian ink (permanent) over the top, it might make for interesting negative effects. 

At present, unusually for me, I'm not interested in working up colour options.  As a textile silkscreen printer, colour comes later in the process.  At present, I'm working on producing interesting effects where I can get the design black enough (ie not tonally varied) to produce a good silkscreen.  And I want my textiles to be my work from start to finish.  So it is my inspiration and concept; my illustrations (not photos); my utilisation of a variety of artistic techniques; my resolved design; my workshop competence that produces an exposed silkscreen; and my print skills that produce the cloth.  No wonder artists start reflecting on narcissism!

All this takes time.  When I started my degree, part time, people said 5 years was a long time to work towards an end product.  I have always said attaining my degree was not a race - I wanted to enjoy the journey.  But the more I learn, the more there is to consider.  And consequently, the more I realise that the first work I produced was "fast art".  Five years is nothing.

Slow art - taking the time to get the right wholesome ingredients to make a worthwhile sustaining product.

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