This piece is the result of a mark-making exercise. Begin with a mark, then help it have a conversation with another mark. And another. And so on. And then edit the conversations. Abstract instructions for making abstracts.
At first I didn't really get it. So I played around with different marks, and tried to get them to speak to each other. Mostly they just stuck up their noses and were silent.
Or they thumbed their noses at me like these two starts:
So I consulted my new favorite art book,Drawing and Painting People, by Emily Ball. And yes, the book begins with exercises on making marks! Woot! Ball calls marks "dynamic little cluster of information" and stresses the importance of overlapping the marks. She also shows how marks aren't just something you make with a writing implement or a tool, but finger swipes and smudges of paint, blurred blobs and fuzzy shapes. Ooooooooooh.
It began to click. I created a small stack of mark-making conversations and managed to avoid any angry arguments (although those would be interesting, too). As my confidence grew, I made marks on larger and larger supports until landing on a 14" x 14" size.
The piece with marks alone (below) isn't very interesting. But when you "edit" the conversations (as in the final piece "On Your Mark"), the marks become juicy bits of overheard gossip or pearls of wisdom, depending on the remaining conversation.
Perhaps this is an exercise in the construction of an abstract, mark-making and editing a piece. But it could also be a metaphor for conversational consensus building! Bring a number of interesting but different people together over a topic. Let them fully express their opinions and then boil it all down to common themes and areas of agreement while editing out the bits that clash or are off-topic.
Which I will not be able to attempt as I leave for a brief holiday in Italy, given my grasp of the language is limited to the helpful pocket guide to Italian in my bag. I will be delighted if I can clearly ask for the bathroom. Dov'è il bagno?