Delicately Detailed : A Reflection on my Habits

This week Joan Ross, my painting class supervisor at UNSW Art & Design, asked me why I’m naturally drawn to doing detailed, realistic work.

So, as I’ve been an insomniac with jetlag, I spent a couple of nights thinking about it, and now I feel I might as well share it with you.

I’ll start with some context.

During the four years of my undergrad degree in design, I pretty much avoided drawing altogether – partially because I was intimidated by the talent I was surrounded by at art school, but for the most part I was preoccupied photography, DIY punk graphics (I was obsessed with Propagandhi and Adbusters Magazine), and had the idea that I wanted to move into motion graphics.

I finished studying and had a job as a graphic designer. Staring at a computer screen. All day.

And it all began.

Originally, drawing came as a revolt against technology, an urge to master a tactile skill left behind at childhood. Remember, the early 2000s were all about vector illustration and Flash websites. Pencil on paper felt like a dying art, but I fell in love with that nostalgic feeling.

Rose Tinted Glasses, 2006

Rose Tinted Glasses, 2006

I never intended to become an illustrator. It was genuinely a case of ‘one thing led to another’… I went from freelance branding and web design work, and my in-house graphic design role, to pretty much full-time illustration without a whole lot of planning.

Anyway, back to the why of detailed, realistic work. It started as a rebellion, then as a reflection of nostalgia and childhood references, and then (to some extent) a habit.

Sure, I should add in here, there are aspects of the ego (there’s always a lot of validation that comes from doing realistic work) and a sense of control that come into play (Virgo).

From the Menagerie, 2010

From the Menagerie, 2010

In the past few years though, I believe I was mostly (subconsciously) led to work realistically through an insatiable desire to ‘run-away-and-join-the-circus’. Not necessarily from the world, or a particular situation – but from myself. Ultimately. It all tied in nicely with the themes of my work, my undying love for surrealism and the ‘nomadic’ lifestyle I had adopted.

Harlequin Girl, 2012

Harlequin Girl, 2012

So, what now then?

Sketching in my studio recently.

Sketching in my studio recently.

With that yearning to escape subsiding (after a year of conscious effort to accept my move back home to Australia), I am drawn to create work that challenges my ‘Virgo tendencies’ and what has become a habit, or my default. Essentially loosening up, and letting things get messy!

This is what I’ve returned to art school for, and this is what the process for my nine metre roll of paper (that you may have seen popping up on my Instagram) involves. It reveals the layers, the vulnerabilities; it is the experience of grounding, and letting go of attachment.

I’ll share more about this particular work in a post next week.

Thanks for dropping by, have a nice day. xx


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