I’ve always wanted to do fine art. The idea of deciding what I want to create and not being in any way held back by the commercial dictates of a third party is very appealing. It’s why, many years ago, I self published my own comic book; a brave, noble and ultimately doomed attempt to provide myself with an income from the creation of a comic book story that was entirely my own. Sapphire was great fun and a valuable experience (and was even reasonably well received) but a source of income it was not.
It’s also why I self-published Haunted York, a guide to the best known ghost stories in my home town (allegedly the most haunted city in Europe) and although doing somewhat better commercially than Sapphire it still didn’t provide the full freedom of creation that I crave (and there was no drawing involved).
However, Spirits is not about ghosts, nor is it about alcohol (much) and I know what you’re thinking; stop wittering on about things that have nothing to do with fine art and tell us what you’re planning to do. Right, good question and one that I’ve been asking myself repeatedly for the last few months. The main problem is actually deciding what not to do, certainly in terms of themes.
In which case, let’s focus on the actual art, which is in all likelihood why you’re here in the first place, although the style and execution of the art developed as a result of a theme. But first things first.
Most of the work I’ve done in comics has been pencil work. I’ve always liked graphite as an art medium and although I’ve worked with paint I prefer something that is more immediate and works well with portraits and collage, which is the main focus of the work I’ve begun. Not portraits of particular people (although I’m working on some of those as well) but faces that capture the sense of a theme. Ah, we’re back to those themes…
Given that the whole point of this fine art idea is creative freedom, I’m planning to use subjects that are of interest to me, which might sound a little self obsessed but they’re not radical or elitist in any way so hopefully they’ll be of interest to lots of other people too.
The Spirits theme came about as a result of a friend of mine suggesting that our gang go on a small jaunt to Pendle to check out the history of the witches. Being a fan of Forteana and anything a bit weird in general it occurred to me that the Pendle Witches would be a good subject. Great, I thought, my first idea for my first piece of work. Only problem was i had no idea how I was going to do it.
Although I knew of the Pendle Witches I wasn’t as familiar with them as I felt I should be so research on the subject seemed the first logical step. As I read about the hapless folk that were hanged on Gallows Hill in 1612 (eight woman and two men) and the interest that the trials still inspire today (helped by the always beneficial tourist industry) I imagined that those witches were still around, certainly in spirit, and that they were very much the spirit of Pendle. Also, the idea of the accused, the trial and the contemporary documents created an image of wanted posters (maybe that’s just me) and the layers of torn paper and print that are often seen on boards used for such things (although today it would more likely be for gig adverts and lost cat appeals) and it occurred to me that this would work really well as both context and texture.
It was all coming together (at least in my head); I envisioned a portrait of one of the witches (I decided upon Alizon Device, the unfortunate young woman who was responsible for kickstarting the whole affair) torn out of the cartridge paper that I would use to draw her on and pasted, along with additional torn papers (both plain and printed) onto some suitably sturdy board.
The pencil drawing that graces the top of this post is the start of turing the idea into a reality. I’m now gathering materials and I shall post the completed piece once it is finished.
And if you’d like to share that would be fab…