Friday, 20 May 2011

dirtying the paper delicately

Attending a meeting at work yesterday where staff were assembled to talk about drawing, I heard the wonderful phrase "dirtying the paper gently" used in describing the act of drawing. Stephen Farthing, our guest who had the previous day given a lecture on drawing (which I missed, sadly), borrowed the phrase from Ruskin. In fact, Ruskin said that "all art is but dirtying the paper delicately" in The Elements of Drawing. It seems to be such a wonderfully poetic description for the activity that forms the majority of my creative practice, particularly the recent works using powdered graphite such as Gravesend and Grindelwald

Here too, is another work by Ruskin, one of many pieces he created in Chamonix in the French Alps, and another which shows his interest in geology. Indeed, in Modern Painters, Ruskin displays an obsessive attention to classifying every detail and permutation of rock formation and landscape feature, all dirtying the paper delicately.

John Ruskin, Cascade de la Folie, Chamonix, 1849
pen & ink, watercolour and bodycolour on paper

John Ruskin, Aguille structure, 1856
(engraved by JC Armytage)

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