When Artistic Seeds Germinate... / by Jeannine Cook

Last year, I felt I was seriously in need of being shaken around as an artist, as I was too often wont to work in my comfort zone. I was experimenting every time I could, but there were not many occasions to work as an artist as other events were impinging too hard on my life.  Nonetheless, the experiments were not all that daring, I felt. 

Frail Remnants, silverpoint/Mylar, 7 x 10", Jeannine Cook artist

This was one line of work - a mixture of realism and stylised silhouettes in Mylar.  Another line of  subject matter I was exploring was my on-going series on tree barks.

Balearica V - Lemon Tree Bark, silverpoint, 5 x 3.5", artist Jeannine Cook

Another series was totally abstract, seemingly, but in reality, based on the extraordinary designs that Neolithic man had already devised for his pottery.

Basilicata #1, silverpoint, 7.5 x 5.5", artist Jeannine Cook

Nevertheless, I felt that I needed to free up, something that is quite hard to do with metalpoint drawing, as there is a terrific feel of friction, well almost friction, when one has the stylus making marks on the drawing surface.  I wondered whether I needed to work much bigger, but also felt that for that purpose,  metalpoint would be a very big challenge.  So I decided that at my residency last summer at DrawInternational, in France, I would take lots of other drawing media and see what came of it all.
I soon realised that I needed to free up from more than just drawing inhibitions.  I had to work through an enormous amount of stress from family illness with which I had been coping, even to getting enough sleep. Then I found that I was indeed being pushed out of any comfort zone, utterly.  Of course, the resultant work was all over the place, but mostly I was using graphite, a much more forgiving medium and one that allowed for all sorts of smudged and gestural effects, the antithesis of metalpoint effects.

Caylus, 14th July, graphite, 15 x 11" artist Jeannine Cook
Fractured, Caylus, graphite, 15 x 11", artist Jeannine Cook

I struggled on, feeling at sea, conscious that I needed to feel at sea, but of course, that is never a happy place to be as an artist! I just had to listen to the small inner voice, that old friend, and be counselled that sooner or later, things would begin to work out and I would find my voice, albeit, I hoped, a slightly different and better one.  Part of the trouble was, of course, that I have continued to have very little time to devote to art and to bury myself in it.

However, I had the luck to go off for the two blissful weeks to the artist residency I was given at OBRAS Portugal this early spring.  There, suddenly, things began to feel more comfortable.  Yes, I am still doing realistic things, but not always in the predictable realistic way of yore.  I feel more comfortable in daring and venturing into much more unpredictable ways of working.  In short, I am finding new voices, slowly slowly.  The seeds that were rather painfully planted last year in my garden of art are slowly beginning to germinate.  That is exciting.

Alentejo IV, graphite, 15 x 11", artist Jeannine Cook
Evoramonte Shadows, silverpoint/watercolour, 12 x 9", artist Jeannine Cook
Cork Oak I, gold/silverpoint, 3.5 x 5.5", artist Jeannine Cook
Lichen Shimmer I, gold/silverpoint, 3.5 x 5", artist Jeannine Cook, private collection