Sticky situations


Diagnosis: Shoulder Bursitis. Pain can feel sticky. Yesterday: 8 hours on the computer for paid work. The day before that: 6. Last two days: the beginning of my holidays. Work feels sticky.

March 24 days of drawing: Rosthern Crabapple ink (which ended up being sticky – literally), Micron pen and water soluble pencil crayon. A bit of old Letraset (simultaneously sticky and not). I got stuck on the ink lines and didn’t know how to proceed. Some sketchbook drawing. Some days nothing. This tree has Fireblight. Was supposed to come down this past winter. Too much snow, too cold. March weather felt sticky.

Emotions feel sticky.

Now, the snowdrops are up (a possible reprieve from stickiness)(?).

24 days of drawing: March 1-24, 2023 (minus some days). approx. 15cm dia.. Mixed media. B. Wanhill
When ideas feel sticky, sketchbooks are helpful. Ink and pencil crayon. B. Wanhill. March 2023
Rosthern crabapple tree. March 12, 2023. B. Wanhill. Canon T3i
Galanthus nivalis. Annual sign of spring. March 25, 2023. B. Wanhill. iPhone X

February process

Through this month’s 24 Days of Drawing, I found out that the Wolf Lichen (Letharia vulpina) I used for the base wash of my drawing is toxic to humans. Previously, I had only known it as a cheerfully lacy growth on the fir trees I grew up with, a potential plant dye for wool and one of the landscape ingredients found on my dad’s expansive HO scale train layout.

Therefore, I am glad I did not try to consume it as a tea and have only used it to colour paper and yarn for this month’s creative investigation.

The river rocks are from a previous drawing from last year. This time, I tried to capture their essence using Derwent Inktense pencils and fell into an old habit of using a Micron pen for stippling texture. The ’90s echo of my 4th year advisor’s disapproval crossed my mind for the first few days of this drawing, but overall and in the end, I’m pleased with how it turned out.

I was also surprised by the difference in pigment between the two unknown fibres I spun for the yarn samples. I think the brighter one might be Polwarth but I’m not completely certain.

Last bit of advice: not a drawing or wool to chew on!

Decades old Wolf Lichen (Letharia vulpine) I had salvaged from my dad’s HO train layout before it was dismantled. (Canon T3i, Feb. ’23)
24 days of drawing: February 1-24, 2023. approx. 15cm dia.. Mixed media. B. Wanhill
Two variations of Wolf lichen dye with the lighter one knit up and compared to last month’s Lilac twig dye. (Canon T3i, Feb. ’23)

Old friend

Friendship (not counting family) and the term has woven its way in and out of my thoughts the last few years. Thinking about old and not so old friendships that have ended, I’ve accepted and made peace with. The nostalgia for old friendships I continue – distantly – because we are different or geographically apart but still wish each other well. And then there are tentative new friendships being made in the middle of midlife (and again somewhat distant because: tentative and midlife). And then of course, if we are of a certain age: the digital form of friendships that manifest through that addiction to social media (a mixed bag of meaning I won’t even try to dissect here).

Fragments of botanicals collected for my January 2023 24 days of drawing.

All of the above are describing friendships of the human kind and finally after all these years, I have learned there is no perfect human friendship for me. I am no perfect friend.

When we recognize something in ourselves, we can choose to be curious about it, question it and either change or continue as before. I think I am changing my perspective on my human friendships. It is a work in progress.

For this month’s work, I created a pigment boiled from lilac leaves and branches and included traditional drawing media.
We have Burr oak in the neighbourhood so experimenting with oak gall.
And then a new social media friend inspired me to dye some wool with some alum spiked lilac pigment.

Work in progress. It was surprising to me the other day that I used the term old friend not to describe a human. Nor a beloved pet or plant. I used it to describe my relationship with art making. And it surprised me a bit and took me aback.

I have not been a perfect friend to my art practice either. And YET, it has been the most loyal companion all these years. I have slagged it/minimized it/and tried to turn my back on it. And YET, there it is: ready to bring me equanimity.

So, I’ve been continuing to visit it. Sometimes for only a minute, sometimes as long as 20 or 30 minutes a day, for 24 days out of the month. This year, my year will be framed in a circle. I aim to try to use a botanical pigment each month and draw from the natural world (which is also an old friend and one I visit less frequently).

I’m pleased with this first 24 days of drawing. It is nostalgic (the lilac originates from my parents’ property and those lilacs originated from my mom’s grandfather). It is familiar (I’ve had an interest in drawing plants on and off for over 30 years). It is new (experiments with different drawing media and how they interact with each other).

24 days of drawing: January 1-24, 2023. 15.3cm diameter. Mixed media. B. Wanhill

My old friend art making: thank you for sticking with me.