The Amsterdam studio away afternoon
As a designer I’m often accused of being able to draw, and although I USED to put pencil to any piece of paper that appeared in front of me to draw what ever came to mind, I now find it’s something I am a lot more hesitant to do in case anyone actually sees what I’ve ‘drawn’. So last week when we went on the Amsterdam studio away afternoon for a bit of creative inspiration and exercise, I found myself a bit apprehensive about the whole thing.
We went to an amazing studio in the Jordaan, the interior of which looked like an upside down wooden beamed ship hull. Quite inspiring in itself. There was a long row of face to face work stations set up with the materials we’d need for the afternoon. We installed ourselves and joked about the Picassos and Pollocks amongst us (completely forgetting any shyness of self expression), and then we began.
The first exercise was a loosening up exercise, something which felt odd at first (physically swaying back and forth and letting the charcoal brush across the page as we moved…. hmmmm?) but we quickly became more confident and expressive in our motion and actually, even though it was only a warming up exercise, there were some nice creations from that alone. And so it began.
We then tried a number of different techniques from drawing with charcoal then removing layers with the kneaded eraser, applying layers of coloured charcoal through torn stencil shapes and eventually acrylics applied by hand, brush and palette knife too. The briefs felt open and abstract compared to the ones we get day to day… and it stumped a few of us. What do you mean ‘let the feeling take you in unexpected directions’, or how is one to ‘look at what you’ve just done and react to it from there’? I don’t know. To be honest, at this point I was really missing my x and y coordinates, my pt size measurement box and Google for reference.
Anyway, some people took to it like fish to water. Stuff was appearing on their page that looked planned, considered, researched and actually very competent. Amazing. Abstract, expressive, intense, symbolic, subtle (and probably accidental too) expressions by the people I work with day to day but had never seen that side of them – I was SO impressed! It was clearly starting to feel more natural to us all now. Even I was happy to work my way in one direction only to completely destroy, or shall I call it ‘reinterpret’, it with a big spiral through the very middle of it. That was meant to be the self portrait/self expressive one – I’d hate for anyone to analyse anything created that afternoon though…. let’s just put it down to learning and fun.
We each created three pieces in total, and at the end of the day we were asked to summarise the experience in three words. We were then asked to name our creations – who knew naming a masterpiece could be so difficult? Untitled 1, 2 and 3 became a good option.
To finish off a fun day we all headed out for an Italian meal at Cinema Paradiso. The delicious food and famous Fellini films just kept coming, as did the anecdotes of our experiences that afternoon. Had we really created anything ground breaking that afternoon? Had Clara matched Rothko’s intensity of colour? Had Eric out-splattered the majestic Pollock? Did Neil really think he looked like a Moai from Easter Island? And, did Fleur know she could rival Kapoor with that intense but simple red dot in the middle of a textured white canvas? Who knows. By that point the Sgroppinos had arrived and chat was as lively as the paintings were varied. Now we just need to find the right place to hang our works… the Stedelijk perhaps?
In: Art, Events, Graphic design, Ooh that's nice, What are we up to? · Tags: design, inspiration, Painting, team