Automatic Drawing and The Art Process

Mark Making exercise done by a student in The Art Process Studio

Mark Making exercise done by a student in The Art Process Studio

I have recently become more interested in the concept of automatic drawing. Since the central theme in my teaching is about allowing creativity to bubble up while quietening the inner critic, I have been drawn to the history of this idea.

Automatic drawing was developed by the surrealists as a means of expressing the subconscious. Chance and accident formed marks that were thought to reveal part of our psyche. Some Spiritualists such as Hilma af Klint were particularly drawn to the idea of marks being made by the inhabited spirit inside the body.

Since the early part of the 20th century, artists have been exploring the concept of automatic drawing. Some of these artists were Hilma af Klint, Joan Miro, Salvador Dali and Jean Arp. Many of Miro’s paintings began as automatic drawing while it is thought that Pablo Picasso expressed a type of automatic drawing in his later etchings.

Salvador Dali Automatic drawing, 1927

Salvador Dali Automatic drawing, 1927

Mark Making

Mark making has become a bit of a buzz word amongst non objective artists. However, it is as old as the cave painters. Their walls were carved into and hands printed to express his/her presence on this earth. Ed Moses, the late great Los Angeles artist, who explored mark making incessantly, coined the phrase” I mark, therefore I am”.

This brings me to back to what we try to do in The Art Process studio. My goal is to encourage the students in my mixed media classes to find a way to give creative voice to their intuitive mark making style. I do this by encouraging experimentation and building of layers. Marks are made, erased, excavated, torn apart and put together again. All of this is a process of self discovery. If we allow ourselves to be quiet and free from self criticism, our marks can inform us just as the pace of our breath can tell us what’s going on in the deeper well of our psyche.

We have workshops, classes and retreats coming up in the summer and fall. I’d love you to join our growing community of creative seekers as we continue our journey surrounded by a nurturing, nourishing community and environment. At our OJAI RETREAT in October we will explore these concepts further while overlooking the gorgeous Ojai Valley! Id love it if you could join us…