Preparing to facilitate a workshop at SMoCA, in the coming week. Thinking about my use of text in an art work. Text as an element within a design, is the focus.
The first time I consciously used text in a painting, I wanted to create a series of works that together made up a narrative. I was drawing/setting up (the idea of) an act, a play. And like the playwright, I too had a cast of characters I was to direct. I was influenced some, by Thornton Wilder’s Our Town. I liked his use of the narrator/stage manager. I created narrators that stood in the foreground, in black and white, while the cast stood center stage, in full color. Introduction text was in black and white. I wanted the audience to read the words and relate to the characters, so the words were literal, familiar, direct.
I used text in another series where I was thinking about the power of the words, thoughts and the make-up of the mind. The series dealt with the creation of a limited identity. I used Spanish words (alongside English) for the first time in this series. Because large canvases, with a central figure were surrounded by words, I recognized the use of text as a way of creating movement in an artwork. I played with letters and punctuation, and created rhythm using strings of words. Not only can text be read, it can also create interesting space.
Lately I have been using words or complete sentences to create small intaglio prints. In this case, words generate the image. They come first. Words are used to frame or surround a focal point. Text informs the form. The printmaking process lends itself to making small, quick, stream of consciousness artwork that stands alone or can be the start of a larger series, at a later time.
The workshop will be fun. And it will be informative for all of us. I’ve prepared a presentation of some work, to begin the day. And then I’ll teach process. The participants will hopefully complete a small work within the allotted 4 hours. I’m sure to learn some specific things about each of them, while they apply what they learn.
Using text, communication is usually immediate.