All the work from my drawing portfolio can be accessed through the drop down menu at kathrynkerr.art.
What were your first ideas in response to the project briefs?
The moment I read the Introductory project, I knew I would do Tropical Tourist as my theme! I love the beach and live in the tropics, and my bright sarong was the first image in my mind.
I was really looking forward to the archive exercise, as I love all things vintage and antique. My initial idea was to access the Rockhampton Little Theatre costume collection. My initial inquiries revealed an assortment of 1960s hats in turquoise and navy that were perfect little time capsules of the era.
Covid-19 restrictions meant I had to look closer to home, and I’m so glad of it, as it led to a journey through my family history and uncovering information I needed to properly store our precious collection.
It was difficult to settle on the floral subject. I had made some initial sketches last year for an applique quilt (for my day job) called Capricornia Christmas which would feature Australian native mistletoe. This was the only flower included in the design that was currently flowering; but its flowers were sporadic. Thus, I was not happy with my choice of the Gerbera, however ubiquitous and long flowering, as I missed to opportunity to ‘kill two birds with one stone’.
What was your first impression of each of the projects?
So much drawing!!! (I fully understand the need to create a bank of primary material).
A reflection for me is to to examine how my response to each project was essentially the same, and followed an up and down path:
I began each project with the need to document my subject in a realistic way. This is very focused and as the drawing unfolds, I discover the object. This was inevitably followed by a series of close-ups of details as I look even more deeply. As a scientist, this is understandable, the observation and recording function is now in-built.
Then, I begin to flounder. How is it possible to interpret and re-interpret something over and over again? I have to break away from documentation and engage completely different muscles.
My approach becomes a game of trying different media, trying to make each drawing look as different as possible to the last. It is joyous when I devise another approach. While this always reveals something new, I have yet to really become bold and experimental, really push my creative boundaries.
Which techniques did you explore through your selection, drawing and mark-making?
Looking over the entirety of my drawings, it’s easy to see that my first port of call is graphite pencil. Next I tend to branch out into similar media: charcoal, ink (I discovered sumi ink recently), and black marker over graphite pencil.
I found myself continually beguiled by taking prints off the objects with paint, or rubbing with wax. I do feel as though these techniques are ‘cheating’ as I preserve a traditional definition of drawing, despite my epiphany recorded in What is Drawing?
I really enjoyed making my own tools:
* for example, to replicate the edge of the bobbin lace. I believed I was being really ‘true’ to the subject when I made my feather brush for the soft bed jacket.
* experimenting with lino cut
Some firsts during these projects:
* collage (the shirt, not the lace which seemed stiff);
* a large drawing made directly with paint (the red/pink drawing of the bed jacket)
* using a thick black marker
I was at my most experimental when I used plasterer’s mesh to create the woven pattern in a rendition of folded voile. I had the most fun using wax resist under paint.
What do you feel are the strong points of your work and what are its weaker aspects?
The strongest aspect of my work is perhaps the attention to detail; but, as described above, this observational methodology holds me back from exploration. My best work came when I let go, and allowed myself to ‘free-up’.
I think the other aspect which serves me well is perseverance, and willingness to learn a new medium (like watercolour) through repetition.
There are so many weak aspects! The worst is the stiffness of my drawings. For instance when I look at the Gerbera drawings the first few are so stiff. I did notice a visible improvement as I progressed and became more familiar with the subject, but still have a long way to go.
What new skills have you gained?
The most obvious skills I’ve gained are:
* some basic knowledge and practice with watercolours;
* digitising drawings in Adobe Illustrator.
The most fundamental lesson was the importance of working in a series, in rapid succession. As I pushed beyond the initial drawings of the zigzag pattern of the collar, I started to produce more and more interesting work. I limited the series to six items, but I could push this further by trying to produce a dozen iterations. I know that I will adopt this strategy in my future practice.
How would you like to develop your work in the future, based on these initial projects?
My work will most benefit from practice, practice, practice. It is important for me to begin a personal journal where I draw every day, and produce the type of series of iterations described above.
I will go ahead and develop my Aussie mistletoe design using this method.