Looking through my library these days I found a book of drawing exercises done at art school under guidance of my favourite teacher. Her lessons would apply to any creative endeavour, I think, because she taught us to look critically at our own work and to express our thoughts in precise words, always avoiding the pointless ‘good’ or ‘bad’.
Even her list of focus points (line, shape, point of view, proportion, movement, lighting, contrast, structure, colour, etc.) would be useful to any creative person outside art class. These words were only used AFTER we had been urged to a maximum freedom in our work and they were to be handled with pleasure, as a leading thread for further work, never with stress. Our wonderful teacher aimed entirely at defining our personal style: the sum of our own choices and what suits us best.
People intuitively feel if something is meaningful. That essence cannot be faked. So we must become conscious of our choices in what we make, dare the freedom to follow the impulse of our inspiration, work at developing it as far as we can and avoid the emptiness of the easy way out.
We continued on one theme as long as possible. The exercises were challenging, frightening even because they were new, but they also became great fun as we progressed and were able to look back, and now I can see how my own themes have revealed themselves in my books.
Here is what happened with some photographs I had taken of rocks in Scotland during that summer:
I used many other pictures as a starting point. Here is one more photograph:
So you see, anything can be used as an opening. At the time I began keeping diaries, and I still do. A5 in size with a large spiral binding they fold themselves around all the added paper cuttings, photos, collages, becoming books in their own right. My ‘iron’ diaries are the bone structure of my new book Living Iron. On hindsight, now that the book is taking shape, they show me how I’ve been looking at an industrial world and its unexpected poetic connotations on an almost daily basis.