Saturday, April 24, 2010

Ladies First - Group Show at BSG


monika viktoria – of lace and moss

My current body of work “of lace and moss” is a series of delicate portraits depicting transient moments in time.
The girls in my portraits are captured glimpses: a parting glance before a departure, a blink, a sigh, a hesitant decision. They are caught in the brief moment between a breath, a second of silent contemplation before a transformation.
When I think of lace and moss I imagine silent places deep within the woods, and forgotten attics guarding the remnants of a decadent bygone time. In my drawings I try to depict the ephemeral waifs who might equally inhabit both places.
Layers of delicate watercolour washes create a softly glowing space; an achingly fragile world filled with longing and intermingled memories.
For “Ladies First” I will be exhibiting a selection of the latest portraits in the series.


I'm delighted to announce I will have a selection of my latest artworks on exhibition at Brunswick Street Gallery in late May. I have been drawing and preparing with great excitement.

I even sat down and made the most time consuming - but beautiful - business cards I could. Each little frame I cut out by hand, keeping the pretty ornate silhouette in tact. The delicate tissue paper pouches are all sewn individually, and the precious card slips inside...

Sunday, April 11, 2010

My Artistic Progress

I have been having an interest night of thoughts. Thinking about my art, what I'm doing, and why... thinking of answers for questions that might be asked, validations, defences...
I think it's always good to be prepared, and to know how you feel about your own work and techniques. I do feel a tinge of irritation when I see artists who reply with bemused shrugs or nondescript mumbles when they are asked about their work.

I received my first piece of constructive criticism today in a long time, (besides the frequent critiques from my artist partner, who has very strict thoughts about art) and it sparked this very fruitful night of thinking hard about my work. It was great. I needed it.
It made me want to share a bit about my revelations, and a little about my very recent artistic path.... so, where shall I begin? Maybe at the beginning... very briefly, I promise.

I started drawing at a young age. My first grade teacher told my mother I was a very good artist. She looked at my childish scribbles and could not for the life of her fathom what he saw that distinguished my work as showing artistic talent. He mentioned my "figures" had eyelashes, rings on their fingers, shoelaces.... tiny details that were unusual for a six year old. Now, I was by no means some artistic child genius, in fact, I struggled at art all the way through my education.

My recent critique brought memories with a smile to my face. Proudly showing my mum a new drawing, to have her mention something that was wrong with the picture. In hurt tones I would defend my mistakes, to which she would reply "Oh I didn't know you only wanted to hear good things... okay Monika, It's beautiful, it's amazing, oh, it's perfect!" (She was, and still is, a very sarcastic woman.) This would irritate me even more, and indignantly I would sweep away my drawing and scuttle back to my room.

After finishing Art School, I slowly began to get back into drawing the way I wanted to.
I would tentatively draw my picture using a pacer (technical pencil), erasing mistakes, and redrawing. Erasing, and redrawing, erasing and redrawing.... Until I finally deemed the piece perfect. Having a high expectation of what I wanted to achieve, it could take me weeks to finish a single A4 sized drawing. After this laborious task, I was often too daunted to even colour and finish the drawing, terrified that after all that hard work, I might ruin it. I still have a lot of unfinished drawings from the last few years, waiting to be coloured and brought to life.

This next picture was the last, and first, of two different stages of my artistic history. 
The last piece I would draw meticulously in pencil over a period of time, then slowly colour, and only the second time I had ever used watercolour paints. It was the "dawn" of a new style and subject matter for me, and I drew it less than a year ago.... my entire portfolio right now is under a year old...

I was the co-manager of one of Australian fashion designer Alannah Hill's coquettish boutiques, working alongside a small team of beautiful girls. Struggling to find a voice in my drawings, and a subject matter I wanted to pursue, I began asking the girls I worked with to pose for me.

I knew instantly that I had found a "subject matter" that I loved. But the drawings were taking so long. Preparing to begin work on the next drawing, (that I figured would be at least another week or two till completion) I decided to do a "test piece"-  a quick sketch in my sketchbook, just to test out the composition. 

Doing these two sketches changed everything. Sure, there were mistakes, they were loose and messy compared to my "proper" drawings... but there was a life and vibrancy that took only a single evening to achieve.

My partner told me a quote at this time: "You can't hesitate your way to fluency."
He related a story about a painter he used to know, that would spend days in the studio just preparing. One day he would stretch the canvas, the next he would clean his palette and prepare the paints, the third he would work out a colour wheel... it would go on like this forever, he was so daunted by actually starting the project that he would just prepare endlessly, but would never actually get to the painting itself.

With this motto in mind, I decided to set myself a project. To work like this in my sketchbook for a while, to practice drawing quickly... using the pen straight onto the paper - no pencil under drawing. One go, one chance to get it right.

It was after I finished this particular piece that I thought I should just start working on nice watercolour paper, but try to keep the same immediacy and flow of the 'sketchbook drawings'. I haven't looked back since.

This technique of drawing straight onto the paper with pen, means that I do make mistakes, and have to just keep going. There were some drawings where I had made so many mistakes and had to abandon lines half drawn, to re-draw them in their proper place, where I felt like just giving up on the piece entirely and starting again. But I forced myself to finish them, and add watercolour. It means there are ghostly black lines crossing across torso's, the remnants of where I made a face shorter, double lines, double chins... You can see the evidence with this young lady's arm.

But I don't mind (well, of course I do, but...) I have learnt so much from this forced technique of non-tentativity. I am trying to not hesitate my way to becoming a better drawer. I have thrown myself in the deep end considering the previous perfectionist that would not finish a drawing till every line was perfect.

Some drawings are riddled with distracting mistakes... but miraculously.... some recent ones have had none. This, and all the helpful and encouraging comments I've received have kept me going, pushing myself further to better my skills and techniques. Thank you to everyone who leaves a comment!

I hope this terribly long post was not too arduous to read, I hope some of you enjoyed it - and I hope it clarifies some of those curious black lines and obvious mistakes!!! :-)

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Mi Wo Same - The Last Look

Mi wo same - in Japanese: The Last Look, the final image to be burned into your memory before a parting...

I started this piece this time last week, then much to my chagrin, just as I was about to have 5 glorious days off in a row because of Easter, and was preparing to spend them pursuing art and creativity, I fell quite ill. I spent all 5 days, and two more after that, in bed. I haven't had that many days off in a row in a long long time. I was, and still am, very annoyed at this wasted opportunity.

anyway.... I was glad to finish her today. I've seen the preview of the invite for the group show, and I'm excited :-)

I originally wanted to find a nice frenchy sounding name for "The Last Look", as if she was quickly taking a last glimpse of herself before she heads out. My partner told me the Japanese term for it, with a slightly different connotation - a last look before a parting. I thought that fit nicely here, a bit of mystery...

Monday, April 5, 2010

Doll Portraits

Two little portraits I created recently as part of an artistic trade. I am a big fan of trades... If I could, I would go through life and never spend a cent, (nor earn any), just trading this for that.. but alas I do not think my real estate agents would take kindly to the notion.

Before I cropped the first one, I took a quick scan to show the details that were cropped out.  The easter weekend was a good chance to finish these, and some other little silly projects... I originally had grand ideas of finishing artworks for the show... but as is usually the case, the first 5 days off I have in a row in over a year is of course, the time I get sick.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Friday Afternoon

It took me a couple of months to build up the courage to ask my latest model to pose for me :-) Isn't that silly? A new friend that I had made, I didn't want to scare her off straight away. Luckily for me, she is such a sweet, friendly, bubbly, happy girl in real life, she accepted my (attempted) suave-sounding request graciously.

This is an interesting part of my artistic process, though. I have seen girls before that I have though I would love to draw. I am no way confidant enough to walk up to one of them and proposition them. This is probably, at the moment, a good thing. I do not know what these beautiful or interesting looking mysterious girls are like at all.... drawing my friends and the lovely ladies I have acquainted myself somewhat with means I can infuse a little bit of their personality, or a sense of psychology into the artwork.

So I just mentioned this model is lovely, bubbly, happy, and always smiling..... however, she told me some very interesting stories about her life, and I felt very moved at all that she has already accomplished, and lived through. I think a bit of world weariness and reflectiveness has come through in this piece, which I'm happy about.

I hadn't done such a grey drawing in a long time. But I'm very happy with it. I feel a bit like this on some Friday afternoons.