Abstract Expressionist artists did not stop at visualising the basic human emotions but also expressed the feeling and mood by energetic paint strokes, automatic drawing that was motivated by the drives of the unconscious usually ending up in mechanical shapes and objects but having a deep influence and message to carry to the viewer or audience.
Rothko believed that the myth, which is hidden in one‘s unconscious can be released when using a free, or in other words, automatic type of drawing or painting, ending up in an abstract, crowded by characters and symbolic piece of art. Automatism was a ‘means of conjuring and realizing subjects by probing the unconscious, where the seeds of myth were supposedly stored’. (Chave, 1989)
In order to understand more how automatic drawing works I have decided to test it myself and see how my unconscious will express the images I see or which are trapped in my memory.
I remembered several techniques we used to do in college – sting drawings, pen on a stick and big brush on a stick (or holding the tip of the paintbrush). This allows you to concentrate on the of the materials in order to create the image as it is highly hard to create an image that you would imagine in your head. I have tested all three of these techniques and must say I felt like I have been sweating pretty hard as I was trying to create the images as perfect as possible but it was just impossible – techniques did not allow this – unconscious was sending impulses to my arm muscles to move it right, left, up and down but my mind was saying, no , this is not right, it doesn’t look real at all?!
A day after that I looked through the images of the cats, mice and goldfish I have been drawing few days before. They looked fake, childish, as if they have been taken from a children’s colouring book. I understood the reason. I had been drawing from still images so I had a possibility to work on each of them for more than 5 minutes – even the action drawings did not look like the animal was in action – it was still, simple and quiet. during the tutorial I have received a highly useful tip – why not drawing my own cat?
I got myself a big tip felt pen and loads of paper (I knew I will have to have everything by hand as the image making will be so quick I will not be able to think). And…? Well the image turned out super! I have never imagined that such rushed lines can create something so beautiful, expressive and active! This is what I was exactly searching for. During this process of drawing, my cat was moving so fast I had only few seconds for each of the poses, I was not able to add in too many details, not able to over-think or overdo the imagery – it was simple yet you could still understand the poses or what animal it was. This is when I understood the need of automatic drawing – what wonders out unconscious are keeping and the magic of expressive drawing – when it seems like this whole time you were just rushing to make the lines but never thought if that line will look nice there or not, it just appeared in seconds and created compositions of lines and mark you could have never dreamed of making!
Would I continue this technique in my FMP project? 100% YES! It not only helped to release my inner image making skills, the animals I am able to draw have the right amount of expression, action and beauty – exactly what I needed.
Here are the pieces I came up in the end (this is just few of them for explanation purposes – the rest are being kept safe in the research file I will be providing at the end of this project):