We were pleased to be asked to run one of the Creative Gym classes at the Royal West of England Academy (www.rwa.org.uk) in Bristol, which are a series of fun and informal art-making workshops for adults. We entitled our class ‘Drawing Inspiration’ and encouraged the participants to work collaboratively to create layered works, using experimental hand-made and machine-made marks. The aim of the workshop was to explore different methods of gathering resource material from the surroundings, either in the studio or the fantastic RWA galleries – eg. drawing from life using the exhibitions as inspiration, working with embroidery, taking rubbings, or using drawing machines to record movement.
Each of these ‘found drawings’ were made on a separate sheet of paper and then photocopied onto acetate so that they could be layered over one another to change the composition of the final piece. Ideally, creating 4 or 5 layers of distinctly different marks, to make more interesting combinations to choose from.
These were then projected onto larger sheets of paper on the wall and drawn from, either individually, or as a group, to make collaborative drawings. The acetates sheets could also be directly worked from, to make smaller pieces of work.
The flexibility of having separate layers of mark-making that do not directly affect each other and so can be continuously manipulated, allows a more adventurous approach to exploring ways of generating marks, as nothing is allowed to become ‘precious’. We encouraged the participants to share individual layers with one another and to challenge the idea of individual ownership of the work. We also talked about the importance of putting the emphasis on ‘enjoying the process’ of making art, rather than solely focusing on the final outcome – allowing a more playful and interactive way of working is a great way to de-stress and have fun! With the deliberate inclusion of chance and random interference in the working methods, the results can be surprising – sometimes giving an unexpectedly, amazing outcome and sometimes the reverse! – but that’s the fun of the unpredictable!
We were delighted that the participants embraced this workshop with such open minds and produced some exciting results – both as individuals and also collaboratively – and we hope that they’ll enjoy incorporating some of these ideas into their own working methods.