This morning, I spent over an hour starting work on this entangled pen drawing. I did film the process, but it’s recycling day, and the bin lorries and bin men were really noisy this morning. So, I turned the video into a timelapse with music. It lasts about 14 minutes, and the link to it is above this paragraph.
I remember chatting about my influences for this drawing, and they started with me watching a video from the “Journey to the Microcosmos” YouTube channel.
I’ve always loved microscopic images, being able to see things that are invisible to our naked eyes. There’s always a sense of wonder about it, amazement at the different shapes of the various organisms that become visible. That wonder must be the same as Antonie van Leeuwenhoek, a Dutch scientist of the 17th and 18th Centuries must have seen.
I loved drawing what I could see with the aid of a microscope from the first science lessons when I was 11 years of age, right through my degree and PhD and on through my teaching career too. And of course it was bound to creep into my art!
My memories of drawing diagrams of flowers and rock sections, minerals and scientific apparatus and diagrams are very fond indeed. This has certainly influenced my style of art – observing the tiny, abstracting the interesting (important) patterns and forms. Scientifically, the focus is on the features, structures, the important parts that allow identification or communicate the important features of what was seen. After all, photographs and videos can be made of all the glorious detail and colour.
The diagram is a simplified version, a map, that can help others to navigate their way around. A kind of scientific version of the map of the London Underground system. The map helps in navigating the system, but it bears no relationship to the physical layout of the rail lines and the geography of the city above.
Now, however, I take those observations and turn them into my own arty, entangled worlds of wonder. It is still the small parts that catch my attention, fill me with wonder and awe, are the ones I record, rarely the whole thing. If I visit an old church or abbey, I rarely, draw the building as a whole. I spend time looking and drawing the elements of it that capture my arty attention.
My sketchbook page often ends up of a collage of my visit, the various observations fitting together in a pleasing way. Often, I may join the elements together with imaginary lines or patterns. I may end up not with a drawing of the whole building; instead, I record my experience of the building at the day, time, season and weather I visited it.
The same is true for visits in nature, or to museums. My sketchbooks record what catches my attention, and that may not be the ‘whole’ of something, but just a part.
I’m still a scientist in my approach to art – what are the important forms, patterns, shapes, etc. that are the distillation of my experience, that I’d like to record and, maybe, share with others?
Of course, these observations find their way into my more Entangled art, like this one. The round orbs separated into three lobes were inspired by something I saw when watching one of the Journey to the Microcosmos videos. The flat leaves, by seaweed. The triangular pods are imaginary, though there may be real-world analogues of them from which inspiration was unknowingly gained. Curled, baby fiddlehead ferns are the inspiration for another motif in the drawing.
Inspiration indeed – based on observation, but interpreted and altered in a way that is personal to me.
I’m forever wondering what my artistic voice is, and here it is. At least one of the harmonic notes or chords anyway.