Here are some new etchings. From a personal piece about true intentions called ‘dogs under the table’, to an illustration inspired by Bulgakov’s ‘Heart of a Dog’, and finally, a sugar lift experiment channeling film noir.
Enjoy! To see more please visit my website at www.louisnetter.com
I consider myself a slow learner when it comes to drawing. This might be because there is so much to know but it might be that its granularity, its slowness, is a large part of its pleasure. I am not referring to the act of drawing (which in my case is pretty quick) but the contemplation that exists between drawing. I spend a lot of time stalking my prey. A good drawing is only as good as the moment observed and that moment needs to be emblematic of something larger. Of course the closeness that I share with my subject, drawing and my own intentions, may not culminate in a readily understood drawing. This is why I post several drawings created within a relatively defined period. The thread between the drawings becomes clear when we see them next to each other in a dialogic exchange and as a group, speaking to the ways in which drawing communicates multiple layers of the human experience. A good drawing is infused with a kind of magic that has less to do with the accurate articulation of a specific person than it is an evocation of person, place or circumstance. I am learning now that the visual language of reportage drawing creates a kind of micro culture in these works that although wholly constructed and embellished by the artist, is deeply rooted in an intimate experience with real people and real places. The kind of truth that we readily assume is contained within a photograph is often too wrapped up in notions of objectivity. As Roland Barthes says of the photograph ‘it is a message without a code’. The ‘second meaning’ or ‘treatment’ of the image that happens in non analogous forms of art like drawing, are too often seen as a deviation from reality instead of, what I believe them to be in reportage drawing particularly, the summative expression of experience through visual language. The code is then visual language and the subjective expression of that language is an individual testament to a lived experience. Perhaps the visual truth that we should speak of is the successful articulation of that moment not in it’s believable rendering of people and places, but of our communion with the artist’s experience.
The following drawings were done in London last week as I attended New Designers in Islington.
Reportage drawing is a complex activity bringing together several layers of experience, acquisition, intention and reflection. Through my own practice, and eventually the practice of other reportage artists, I am seeking to identify in the reportage act the simultaneity of seeing and depicting that reveals the inherent strategies, both intentional and intuitive, that are manifest in visual language. Reportage drawing is well suited to this path of inquiry because although it is undertaken in a variety of environments and with differing agendas, the act requires a high level of intuitive response to stimuli and concretely reveals strategies for articulating forms. Additionally, reportage drawing is often undertaken as a means to comment upon and extend ideas about society at large. It is my contention that the visual language of the reportage artist is imbued with the intent of the artist. This is particularly true of the reportage drawing that I engage with. My reportage drawing is heavily editorialized and my own visual language resembles an extensive graphic vocabulary that simultaneously renders form and comment.
Below are some recent drawings from Paris. Well, I composed them in my head in Paris but I drew them a day later back in London. What is lost and gained in working from memory is something I am very interested in. As these drawings are fairly successful, it does challenge the notion that reportage drawing is necessarily anchored to a time and place. That time and place can be as temporal as our perception at any given moment. These drawings then are a reflection. Perhaps that is what reportage drawing is; reflection in action.
After dishing out more money than I ever would have thought for a pen on Ebay, I struggled to get what the fuss was about. The pen was no ordinary one. I am referring to the Mont Blanc 149 piston fountain pen. It is regarded by many as the best fountain pen in the world and according to some artists, it is a fine machine capable of keeping up with the hand and mind of the artist. After receiving it, I tested it on several sketch book pages. It was unremarkable. It felt sluggish and the line wasn’t as varied or as interesting as I had hoped. A big fat waste of cash. Then, I had a brainstorm. Perhaps a pen like this needed a surface that was firm enough to let it glide. Like a skater on freshly surfaced ice. I also imagined that bright white paper may be the best option as black ink would look most crisp. So, I purchased bright white illustration board and unscrewed the fine torpedo cap of the big (some call it a man’s pen but that is grossly narrow in my view) torpedo shape. Wow! It handled like the Porsche it really is. With no idea of what I was going to make other than a vague exploration of Portsmouth characters, the drawings flowed with the ideas and the pen was tremendously exciting to use. My reason for buying the pen in the first place was to have a new tool. More than that, to have a tool that combined what I love about etching and drawing and was more expedient to use in upcoming explorations into graphic novels and personal projects. Much more to come.
These drawings have been eagerly awaiting the warm glow of the computer screen for months. I have been meaning to get them up here but it has not happened. Finally, the dog gets walked. From the Isle of Wight Zoo and streets to Brighton and Bath, these drawings have little in common other than they were produced for pure enjoyment and, in regards to the colour pieces, as a kind of controlled experiment. I am starting to tap into the English frame of mind and I am constantly being surprised. Like any people of any nation, complexities abound especially when you move beyond the surface. My students are also inspiring me. As much of an old dog as I am, (an old dog that needs several walks) there is always a desire to push my image making capabilities to even greater heights. The shape of that is being formed in my head as we speak and may represent a further departure from realist subjects. For now, these drawings have their walk on the cyber stage. Enjoy.
These Berlin drawings have been in my sketchbook since January when we took some students over. It was an amazing city that exceeded my expectations. The city was large, even American in a sense with a kind of grand ideal that felt like home. It also has that same nostalgic ambition that cities like Detroit and Pittsburgh have. A kind of rusting ambition. You can still imagine George Grosz scurrying around drawing prostitutes entering the park at night, and fat bankers slobbering as they stuff food into their mouths. The Weimar city of contrasts between rich and poor, healthy and wounded, still feels alive. More than any other city besides perhaps Paris, Berlin has a palpable connection to a dynamic, creative, and violent history. They all seem to be wrapped up in one sensation and walking the streets can feel quite oppressive. Still, the city is full of people who love art and love life and it is one of the last truly affordable European cities. I had a wonderful time and next time promise to plant myself in the middle of it all and truly channel the spirit and courage of the great Grosz.