Some interesting things have been going on in my life lately and how I feel about them has been a struggle. I decided to start drawing again. I didn’t intend to work through things through drawing but it became obvious that I am. In each drawing I’m creating and reconciling differences. There’s enough tension to create interest and there’s enough harmony to create some sort of visual balance. While I started in a place that’s pretty on the nose, in each drawing what I was working on evolved. I’d like to share that with you.
Cluster by Jennifer Hartnett-Henderson ©2018
In the first drawing above, I used only one shape, a triangle, and did everything else to create differentness. I varied the color, size, pattern, orientation and context of each triangle. In the next piece (below), I moved toward a landscape with a wall disrupting it. None of this was conscious at the time. I followed the question of what happens if I do this? and this? and this?
Tension by Jennifer Hartnett-Henderson ©2018
Throughout the work I actively engaged the question, “How can I make each piece work together as a whole and keep each piece vibrant?”
Tidy by Jennifer Hartnett-Henderson ©2018
Inked shapes lend a physicality to just glimpsed internal questions about the contrasting edges in life.
Flowy by Jennifer Hartnett-Henderson ©2018
By the fifth drawing, I used haphazard shapes contrasted with pattern to create characters and a sense of a world environment.
Storyworld by Jennifer Hartnett-Henderson ©2018
While working on this series, I stumbled upon this verse: “A man’s steps are directed by the Lord. How then can anyone understand his own way?” Proverbs 20:24 While I’m trying to work out how on my own, and control of one’s path is such a value in our culture, God is saying, that’s not the story of your life. Have faith, trust me. I will arrange the pieces of your life into a beautiful whole.
Original work: Sumi ink and Micron pen on 11″ x 14″ Strathmore Bristol paper.
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In case you’re curious about how this work relates to other similar work, pattern drawing is not new. It has a long history. Just think of Chinese dish patterns and Muslim geometric patterns on architecture. Fast forward through centuries and more recent developments include Neopoprealism and Zentangles.
Russian-born artist Nadia Russ coined Neo-Pop Realism in 2003 for the patterns she started drawing in 1989. Russ’s method requires that the pattern drawings be done from a subconscious state of mind.
Rick Roberts and Maria Thomas trademarked a similar method of pattern drawing as Zentangle in 2003. Zentangles are limited to certain patterns drawn on 3.5” rectangles in order to enter a meditative state. I took a Zentangle class a few years ago and have kept coming back to the practice. My most ambitious project to date is a 4’ x 6’ canvas of zentangles drawn with a Sharpie. This series also deviates from the rules of both movements in size, method and source of patterns.
Modern day illustrator Stefan Bucher pioneered the method that I used of creating organic shapes from Sumi ink on a toothbrush and compressed air in his series Daily Monster.