Automatic drawing is one of the surrealist tools, but it is also employed by the Argentinian cartoonist ‘Liniers’.

I was oddly nervous and hesitant about doing this. Perhaps because of the uncertainty of it, the whimsy of it. It felt sort of pointless and groundless (like floating in midair without any support). Also a bit self-indulgent as if I were some sort of pompous self-satisfied artist – and yet I know that these surrealist tools can lead to interesting innovation and interesting places.

I was afraid of the ‘interesting places’ that these might take me off-road to abstraction and away from ‘funnies’. Roger (my PhD supervisor) mentioned in passing once something about me ultimately doing fine arts, but I choose funnies. This alternative way of creating is much more exciting than the ‘serious’ business of art to me.

Anyway, I decided to just accept the negative feeling and get a little support from Professor Liniers with his rationale for using automatic drawing (Domestika online programme 2020), so here are some quick notes:

He uses automatic ‘drawing without thinking’ because he is interested in working as freely as possible – in a big free mental space (he describes his mind as a laboratory). He’s also always experimenting towards a surprise, which he considers key for the construction of humour. He wonders ‘If there is no surprise, why draw?’ With his ultimate aim is to be as free as possible – ‘If not, why be an artist?’

In my attempt, I found it difficult not to think. I ended up thinking about how to make the picture ‘pretty’ as I went. Also, generally felt pretty uptight and ended up with tight shoulders (after only 10 minutes or so). In the end, the drawing ended up looking similar to all other improvised or abstract drawing that I have done (yawn!). No surprises at all.

I’m going to continue to experiment with this and next time start in a more playful way (maybe do some laughter therapy or dance about first), and use different media (this time I used graphite and grafart blocks). My buddy Jonathan Treadwell suggested yesterday that I tried doing the automatic drawing inside a plastic bag, so that I had less control. Could also try it with the bag on my head!

Postscriptum 07/08/2020:

Just noticed when I was backing up these blogs – that the automatic drawing looks like a strange surreal bird that is flapping his wings or doing some kind of dance flows! This may be because I am slightly bird obsessed – yesterday I photographed metal railings because they too looked like birds…