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

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", Jeannine Cook

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

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 Draw International, 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

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

  Fractured, Caylus , 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

Alentejo IV, graphite, 15 x 11", artist Jeannine Cook

  Evoramonte Shadows,  silverpoint/watercolour, 12 x 9", 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

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

Lichen Shimmer I, gold/silverpoint, 3.5 x 5", artist Jeannine Cook, private collection