No Brushwork

My son’s art assignment was to look at Jim Dine‘s work, and create a picture in a similar style. I can never resist poking my nose in, and when I Googled the artist I was fired up by his etchings of tools (although not so much by his other works). If you haven’t seen them, you can take a look here at one of his brushes pictures. I was intrigued by the subject matter, and also by the successfully ‘messy’ execution using drips, scribbles and blends next to very fine linework. I thought I’d like to try my own version with elements of this.

Brush charcoal

My model was an old decorator’s brush, and I started by drawing over my pencil outlines with fineliner in my brown paper sketchbook. Next I added a few details, such as the bristles, and used a charcoal stick to put in some depth, shadow and contours. I enjoyed the ribbing effect which the paper texture imparted – silly, but I hadn’t thought about that beforehand as I’ve mostly used this book for ink pictures. Finally I used a white chinagraph pencil to add highlights.

Well, it was at this point that I lost my bottle. I’d produced a perfectly nice picture of a brush – why risk it by putting in all those scribbles and blots? So I didn’t, and therefore this piece remains less of a Jim Dine, more of a Rebecca. And today I’m fine with that. Maybe tomorrow I’ll loosen up…?

 

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35 thoughts on “No Brushwork

    • Thanks so much, John, I’m really glad you like it; sometimes it’s the humble subjects which appeal most, I think. I have shied away from using charcoal in the past because of the way it ‘squeaks’ and the mess it makes, but it definitely has its redeeming features… 🙂

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  1. This is wonderful! You may have intended xyz and got abc but abc is so beautiful! A friend recently told me to be more positive about my work when I post. And I do believe she was right and I’ve been trying hard not to post what I don’t like about whatever it is I’m uploading here. I say this because I think you are truly a standout artist. I think your brushes are 100 times better than his. Love the $1600 penis, by the way. Really? And of course, an American, gee, can’t say I’m too surprised about that. Argh, your son’s class should be copying YOUR beautiful work! And thanks for sharing your process too. I have a brown book that I really need to do more with. Do you think a white colored pencil would work for the light tones? Anyway, I’m babbling on but your stuff is gorgeous, as always. Have a great Sunday. 💜

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    • Ah, Laura, thank you indeed. I do think we’re all hard on ourselves, but that’s how we learn – one of the ways I use this blog is to look back at things which worked, those which didn’t, and how I did them. So a bit of self-criticism can be useful I think. I’m really glad you liked my brush version – I was not tempted to recreate the penis, even at that price! With regard to your brown book, I think a white coloured pencil would work really well, as long as it’s a fairly soft one. In addition to the chinagraph I have a chalk pencil I sometimes use, which is more blendable and less waxy. Soft pastels, or a white oil pastel would work too, I imagine. What I love about the brown paper is that the mid-tones are already there for you, you just add in the highlights and darks, which makes a pleasant change. I love your babbles, and look forward to seeing your experiments! 🙂 ❤ (see, I've learned another emoticon).

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  2. Personally I love Jim Dine’s work but I also love Rebecca’s art work. They are both unique to themselves. Rebecca was inspired by Jim but retained her own style, in which I so clearly respect. Keep doing what you are doing Rebecca, it’s incredible and beautiful and 100% all you!

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  3. I am retired from my role on the faculty of the Massachusetts College of Art’s Art Education department, but you have got me thinking again today of the same old conundrums that occupied me there: is it better to guide the young into knowledge of art by jumping right in to the more recent experiments, or is it better to go the route of the classical. Your son’s assignment seems to decide for the former. On the other hand, I would favor the kind of practice that is so beautifully illustrated by your own wonderful rendering of the brush. It’s good to be able to jump into and swim in the deep creative pools of the unknown, but best to have a solid springboard from which to take off.

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    • Oh, how I would like to share a cuppa and a natter with you about this, Cynthia! And what an interesting, challenging job that must have been. I bet you have some stories…

      I can’t deny that the art education my son is receiving at secondary school has ignited his interest, and that he feels creating such work is accessible and within his reach.

      I compare this to my own relatively dry experience at school (studying art up to age 18), where the curriculum did not cover ANY art history; I’m sure I would have benefitted from more exposure to outside influences (I didn’t have the drive to find them for myself). On the plus side, there’s no question that I create the way I do thanks to the hours spent wielding a pencil, both in school and out of it. Sadly, we rarely touched paint, and when we did it was usually acrylic on poor paper, used as flat colour. I remember doing just one pastel painting, and 3D was almost totally ignored – no sculpture or clay modelling. That said, drawing’s evidently a powerful discipline in teaching you how to see.

      My son has chosen not to pursue art formally after age 14, so I’ll be encouraging him to continue to create at home, for the love of it. There’s no better reason, after all, and I will try to guide him where I can. I totally agree with you that a solid foundation is repaid a thousandfold. I’m sure that achieving balance between technique and inspiration is critical, but whether we’re there yet, I don’t know! 🙂

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  4. It’s a beautiful drawing though! Maybe you could be messy to start with then get fine and neat with the white near the end? Then you’re not messing up a lovely drawing, you’re tidying up a paint splat 🙂

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  5. I much prefer you paintbrush Rebecca. I’m not familiar with Jim Dine’s work, I had a look at the links you posted but felt a bit meh about them to be honest. Your paintbrush on the other hand I love, keep on being you 😊

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