Creative Cuts: Edges of Subconscious

One of my first sketchbook exercises was a series of ‘creative cuts’ – emerging narratives from cutting up A4 sheets of quick sketches in my front room. An extension of earlier surrealist experiments in randomisation, the images seen in random lines often reveal ones underlying subconscious thought processes and preoccupations.

The actual stories themselves need a lot more thought about relationship between text and image, and making the text more powerful and less cliche. But I was interested in how my subconscious made connections between the drawings and the potential to create spontaneous narratives that could then be further worked on. Although any horizontal and vertical lines can become a landscape and the eye automatically searches out faces, some of the other associations were not so obvious. The process certainly has a lot of potential for work on location.

!! To do more of this and look for more exercises of this type.

Emerging Narrative 1: Landscapes in Red

The original A4 vertical rapid sketch was done in red oil pastel of a corner of our gas fire, a small table and looking just round the corner into the dining room. Because of the texture that would block pens and brushes, I worked into it in pencil.

The images that emerged after cutting turned into red and grey landscapes of some sort of flood apocalypse – influenced probably subconsciously by the news about the climate change discussions and my work on the Norfolk Marshes for SYP ‘Moving Edges’ projects.

Emerging Narrative 2: CAGED

The original A4 horizontal rapid sketch was done in somewhat dry black marker pen of our leaded bay window looking onto the garden. I went over some of the weaker lines and shapes in black oil pastel to make them more dramatic, though not always obscuring the marker texture. Again to avoid clogging pens, I went over some portions of the oil pastel with pencil, particularly the title page.

The images that emerged here were of rats and feeling locked in – influenced by continuing lockdown and all my sketchbook drawings of the rats, particularly a young one that appeared each morning scratching at the window to come in. Quite sweet really – if it had been the only one in its family.

Emerging Narrative 3: Spirits

The original A4 sketch cut into a spiral was in Cretacolour graphite pencil of a corner of the settee, a cushion and the corner of a ‘Fine Whisky’ mirror – hence the rather unoriginal idea of Spirits. Though that also reflected the very rapid, smoke and flame-like marks. I did not develop this one yet into a narrative.