Drawing talk notes

500 drawings - detail 500 drawings - detail

500 drawings (details)
charcoal on paper
approx a3 size sheets

I recently heard students from Massey have seen and raved about my 24 Drawings at the Parkin. I’ve been asked to go and chat with them about how I use drawing in my practice, and what my thoughts were behind the work in the show. Here are my initial, very rough notes…


Notes for a talk about 24 Drawings and how I use drawing in my practice - sfd.

Some context

Drawing as a foundational skill.

A means to express thought / ideas

Villa Arson, Nice – ink drawings on a4 paper 500 drawings

Grid format

  • Eye jumps to make connections
  • less is more, more is even more

Every few years - a drawing blat.
Pile of cheap paper, crayon / charcoal / brush and ink / pen
Could even be / has been a pad of post-it notes
Not precious.
A means of loosening up, of getting the need to draw out of my system.
They don’t have to be anything more than what they are.

Drawing as a means to quickly explore and develop ideas

Drawings / doodles in my notebook
*I don’t see “doodles” as being pejorative

Scale of mark relative to size of page

Also, drawing on the computer. Making works to a specific size. Digital drawing as planning and testing.

24 Drawings - my thoughts

The urge, after making so much hard edged work, to do something looser.

A surprise for people who only know my recent NZ practice.
(I’ve a history of mark making, unbeknownst to many who know my practice since I’ve been in NZ)

Not thinking / second guessing
Conscious / Unconscious
Material experience, visceral, Not thinking about a finished piece, making drawings to “scratch an itch”
Material feel / sensitivity (slip and resistance)

Accompanying statement – in part a petulant response to being asked to describe the work – you can see what the work is!

Keep churning it out - problems solved through making, worked out on the page (as opposed to thinking about making).

(Clarity of) Intent
Confidence in mark making

Images of..

  • 500 drawings
  • drawings / doodles in sketchbook
  • older drawings in sketchbook around the time of 24 Drawings
  • drawings made for Te Tuhi show
  • other Illustrator drawings?

Change medium, change your thinking

This week…

This week:

  • I’ve carried on drawing in my sketchbook:

sketchbook drawings 1

sketchbook drawings 2

  • I’ve moved things around at home in an attempt to make more “studio space” and now know I really need to get rid of a few things.

  • I’ve been talking with friends about ways of making work – 1) Making works specifically for an exhibition or space (eg. my show A Slow Take at Te Tuhi), and 2) Making work for the sake of making work, trusting the process, and then from the resulting works putting together an exhibition. At the moment my practice is in the later state, hence the need for some space.

  • I found myself looking for images of / from Crap Hound magazine, though quite why I can’t recall.

Eyes- we never sleep

The layout reminds me of a big colouring book I had as a kid, and is something I’ve always thought might make for an interesting painting or two. It also reminds me of a book I grew up with, Draw: How to Master the Art by Jeffery Camp. It breaks down drawing into different elements, eg. eyes, nose, ears, clouds, leaves, etc. providing lots of examples from other artists and actively encourages you to copy them.

  • I’ve had thoughts about creating a three month residency for myself. I imagine staying in Wellington, renting a studio for three months and finding ways to raise the money necessary to cover my material and living costs during this time.

  • And over a beer or two, I articulated the struggles I have with ideas of narrative in my work, and how, borrowing a phrase from Kristin Hirsh, “I don’t really do about”. There’s more in this to explore and write about (to really clarify my thinking) but that’s for another day.

In the meantime have a great weekend!

Page 217

Sketchbook drawings or, ways to divide a canvas.

24 Drawings

24 Drawings at the Parkin Drawing Prize

24 Drawings
Oilstick on A3 Kraft paper

For those of you who can’t make it to the Academy here’s a photo of my 24 Drawings in-situ. You can find a larger version here.

Favourites right now

A friend asked me over the weekend who my favourite artists are at the moment.

Here’s three:

Finished work, 2018

Victor Berezovsky

My friend Victor is now based back in Wellington after several years overseas. His paintings often require a lot of looking and his latest works are some of the strongest I’ve seen him make. Part of the drive behind my recent black and white works comes from seeing what Victor’s been doing with paint – I want some of that! His are not the kind of works you often see in New Zealand so take your time and let your eyes adjust to what’s going on in them.


Swimming Pool, 2018
glass beads on linen
375 x 230mm

Erica van Zon

I work with Erica at Toi Pōneke and she’s always got some project on the go. Again, like Victor’s work, some pieces grab me, others don’t, but the work is “very Erica” and this is a good thing. I really appreciate Erica’s approach and attitude towards her practice. This integrity is something I feel both Erica and Victor share and the world is much richer for it.


A Physical Feeling, 2014

Lucas Blaclock

I’ve no idea who Lucas is, what his attitude is towards his practice but I’m intrigued by his photographs. I saw a couple of his photographs when I was in Toronto. They’re odd (in a very good way). Strange compositions, doing interesting things with photography.