In 2013 I took part in a large-format printmaking residency in Venice. This was a new experience for me, and not being a very long residency, I was probably, as always, overly ambitious with my attempted project. My fellow resident was a beautiful Jewish-American artist who was a very skilful drawer. She had been trained in extreme technical proficiency in host of printmaking and painting skills. I was envious of her education and the way her university had moulded and actively helped her to develop her artistic voice. Needless to say, she scoffed condescendingly at my digital sculpture and believed fervently that the sensitive use of line was essential in order to create a sense of identity as an artist. At the time, in awe of her, I vigorously nodded my head in agreement, even though my ‘sensitive line’ lacked accuracy, emotion and…any semblance of sensitivity.
I am reminded of her as a look at the many of the artworks in the Museums and temples of Thailand. Usually I am interested in form, on 3d space and virtual illusion, as seen in my previous exhibitions. However, Thai-style is all about the line; the sensitive, varied, very-controlled, flowing line. Figures usually exist within a flattened floating 2D space, which is usually shared with strange, hovering elements. The lines of are usually drawn with paint or enamel, and they are very fine and consistent. I find myself constantly thinking of how to emulate these lines within wood block and wood engraving prints.
To help me with my line-drawing, I have been practising some basic Thai motifs, which will hopefully help me to interpret some of these characteristics of the Old Thai Style. The first, most basic Lai Thai pattern is the Three Head Kranok pattern:
I have taken to drawing in pen, so that my lines don’t grow smudgy or lose clarity, and I am increasing in confidence with where I am leading my pen. Generally, I feel like I am on a good path. My Jewish-American-artist-friend would be so proud of me.