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Beneath the Glass #3: reasons to Draw and hope

This past Sunday my husband and I packed up the kids and ventured to the AGA for the closing day of "Beauty's Awakening: Drawings by the Pre-Raphaelites and their Contemporaries".  The exhibit was a visual feast of figure drawings - mainly studies and preliminary drawings in graphite or chalk created in preparation for paintings. These were the type of works that I saw in books (and cheap home-decor prints) as a child, and later would study in university, projected from slides onto the screen of a dark lecture hall.

This Sunday, luckily, our baby didn't mind me pausing his stroller ride to get up-close to a few tonal drawings made with ink and watercolour on paper. (Meanwhile, my husband corralled my daughter through the more colourful exhibit upstairs by Damian and Ron Moppett.) It's been a long time since I had the privilege of studying drawings like this in person and, although it was brief, the experience definitely fed my creative soul.

I classify my ink on glass works as Drawings (with a capital D). The word "Drawing" to me has a very rich meaning. "Drawing" for me is not a first step - it is not just a sketch or a first-draft. When I Draw, I take the traditional media that the PreRaphaelites and those before them used for preliminary drawing (small d), and I create a resolved work that is detailed and dense like a painting. I love the depth that I can achieve in black and white. I love getting my fingers all smudgey as I blend chalks and graphite. And with this particular series, I loved mixing black ink with water on glass and seeing what tones and shapes appeared as it dried. No solvents. No elaborate transfer process. It seems the older I get, the more beauty I find in simplicity.

Simplicity is also a necessity for me right now. My only studio time is when my baby naps and my preschooler is out of the house, which is rare. In order to create enough pieces for Textural Dimensions, I needed to work in a medium that was quick to set up and even quicker to put down. Ink on glass drawings, and paper collage, was perfect. I also must admit that tearing up pieces of old envelopes, book bindings, and paper cutoffs from previous artworks was therapeutic and satisfied my need to get my fingers messy!

On a deeper level, creating something beautiful out of these broken pieces became a metaphor for the work that the Creator is doing in my life and the lives of others I know. No matter how broken, no matter how torn apart, no matter how discarded we may feel - or be - there is always hope, because God is in the business of loving people and making all things new. Even when we lose our fight and healing does not come in this life, God has promised us a new and whole body when we cross over from death to everlasting life.

 Creating an image with simple materials.

Creating an image with simple materials.

 Assembling a collage that works with the image. (The big chunk of green mat board on the right side didn't make it into the final piece, and the clovers worked better in the opposite corner...)

Assembling a collage that works with the image. (The big chunk of green mat board on the right side didn't make it into the final piece, and the clovers worked better in the opposite corner...)

 Another collage in progress.

Another collage in progress.

Pam Baergen