Feeling the need to reacquaint myself with my inner child, I enrolled on a series of 5, two hour workshops at the Newlyn Gallery (discounted for volunteers!) led by Kate Walters to coincide with her recent exhibition at the gallery, ‘The Secret Worth A Thousand‘.
Kate’s work is hauntingly beautiful, often exposing brutally raw emotions but always rendered with a delicate, pared-back, finesse. Creatures are prized out of an ethereal dark smoke and confront us with a quiet nobility, inviting us to share our universal animal instincts. (to see her work take a look at Kate’s website)
Her teaching style reflects her own shamanic processes, encouraging deep intuition to take over from the reasoning mind. With twigs and ink as our tools, reading poetry, meditating on where in the body you are feeling things, remembering dreams, and gifting us with some special words of intention, Kate helped us connect to our own internal urges with a free hand style of drawing with eyes closed, responding to some carefully chosen lyrical pieces of music. Out of the resulting confusion of marks, familiar figurative shapes are gradually teased out of the scratchings and scribbles. For someone who is more used to drawing what I see in front of me, I found it wonderfully challenging.
It has resulted in some weird and wonderful animals, shape-shifted from the primordial doodle soup. Some creatures look prehensile, others more recognizably domestic and some, positively cartoon-like. Perhaps we all possess a deep knowledge of these animals and some of these drawings appear to be more akin to the drawings that a child might make, innocent yet knowing. I also felt the need to consult some of my animal oracle cards and was blown away by what I received – too much to go into here and still fathoming it all out. (perhaps for another post later)
All the drawings and writings I did during these evenings were done using only my left hand. I also reaquainted myself with the process of sizing my paper with rabbit skin glue and whiting. It makes a more forgiving surface to work on allowing inks or paints to be rubbed back giving the drawings much more scope for flexibility. This sort of flow is more akin to oil painting and one I enjoy because what you take out (undo) is often as important as what you leave in! A sea-saw of addition and subtraction like the flow between moving in and out of certain levels of consciousness that this sort of process demands.
As someone who generally leans towards a more conceptual approach to making art, I welcome this reminder to tap into my core self. This is altogether a different way of looking more to do with felt responses to interior experiences and one which I will attempt to pay more attention to in the future. So thank you Kate, for graciously carrying us through an inspiring few weeks and for generously sharing some of your pearly gems!