Biro Colour Palette and New Work in Progress…

Detail of colour Biro drawing by Jane Lee McCracken

Detail photograph of colour Biro drawing by Jane Lee McCracken

The following photographic images detail small fragments of a new colour Biro drawing in progress.  The drawing is part of a new body of work exploring the meaning of the word ‘War’.  This particular piece has been months in the making.

Detail of white horse, new colour Biro drawing

Detail of white horse, new colour Biro drawing

The colours in my drawings are mixed one on top of the other using 8 – 10 different colour Biro’s from a pack of 20 pens, in order to create the exact colours required. When painting in the past I would create a spectrum of colours using Red, Yellow, Cobalt, White, Paynes Grey and Yellow Ochre but with the pack of colour Biros I use this is impossible as the colours are geared towards children and include fluorescent hues.  You have to be inventive when mixing the colours within the drawing!  However Biro ink is a beautiful gelatinous ink which when applied to a surface achieves a vibrancy and volume rather like print pigments – one of the reasons I love Biro!

Detail of Roxy, colour Biro drawing

Detail of Roxy, colour Biro drawing

When painting, colours can be ready mixed on the palette so they can be reused within the canvas.  When using colour Biro each colour has to be created or recreated within the drawing by layering different colour pens on top of one another.   It takes a day to achieve 1/2 – 1 inch of a colour composition because you are often quadrupling the amount of pen layers as opposed to the fewer layers required to create the shades of a one colour drawing.

'Pilgrim', small detail of colour Biro drawing

‘Pilgrim’, small detail of colour Biro drawing

Within my work I like to use images of people, animals and objects that play a part in my life and this particular drawing memorialises a yearling and a mare who belonged to friends and sadly are no longer with us.

Still some way to go…

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NEW WORK COMING SOON – Meet ‘Old Foe’ and ‘Odyssey’

'Old Foe' The Dreamers, 2013 original Biro drawing on china by Jane Lee McCracken

‘Old Foe’ The Dreamers, 2013 original Biro drawing on china by Jane Lee McCracken

New work is on its way!  Made late last year prototypes ‘Old Foe’ and ‘Odyssey’, two of seven figurines of original Biro drawings on china form part of a wider project about life and death in the animal world, both naturally and at the hands of man.

'Odyssey', The Dreamers, 2013 original Biro drawing on china by Jane Lee McCracken

‘Odyssey’, The Dreamers, 2013 original Biro drawing on china by Jane Lee McCracken

Inspired by Goya’s Los Caprichos, ‘The Dreamers’ represent the innocent physicality of sleep whilst the torrid kaleidoscope of dreams cascades through the brain.   ‘The Dreamers’ also represents the quiet moments of peace and daydreams before the inevitability of life’s realities steals ‘innocence’.  Dreams play out like films in our minds, abstract fragments of the brain’s data input of information and our fears and hopes.  Much of my work is based on the subject matter of loss through war and disaster or environmental destruction, represented in layered Biro drawings using stills from films often creating an abstracted phantasmagoria of images and thoughts.  Films transport and capture our minds just like dreams do; they face our fears, portray our hopes and can be therapeutic tools in our waking hours as dreams are deemed brain therapy in our sleep.

I made a random collection of figurines from local charity shops, so that my philosophy of simply using what is close at hand, such as a Biro for drawings was upheld with the choice of figurines available on each day.  Damaged and repaired figurines were still selected to retain the memory of the figurine’s previous life and owner.  Each figurine was then painted white, purifying them from the original manufacturers painted design and stripping each figurine back to the foundations of its physical representation thus creating a blank canvas.  This brings a sense of life to each figurine without the distraction of painted design before the original black Biro drawings are drawn onto the painted surface as well as white representing the purity of ‘a being’ at sleep.  An incredibly hard surface to draw on, these pieces were challenging and remain precious for the intimacy shared with each piece by holding them in my hands as I drew on them.

'Old Foe', The Dreamers, 2013 original Biro drawing on china by Jane Lee McCracken

‘Old Foe’, The Dreamers, 2013 original Biro drawing on china by Jane Lee McCracken

‘Old Foe’ (Unmarked Japanese Ceramic mouse figurine) – Inspired by of layers of still images from the Chinese animation ‘Black Cat Detective’, Shanghai Animation Film Studio, 1984 – 2006 and images of the my late mouse Tinkerbell! The origins of this piece represent the age-old feud between cats and mice ultimately leading to the natural but often cruel, death play of the cat with the mouse. ‘Black Cat Detective’ is noted for being particularly violent above other cat and mouse animations such as ‘Tom and Jerry’.  The animated cat’s face is replaced by a black panther’s face, representing the ‘Panthera’ species’ of cats, many of which are under threat of extinction from traditional Chinese medicine.  The flying mice suggest traditional animation representations of death as winged mice fly to heaven.

'Odyssey', The Dreamers, 2013 original Biro drawing on china by Jane Lee McCracken

‘Odyssey’, The Dreamers, 2013 original Biro drawing on china by Jane Lee McCracken

‘Odyssey’ (Lomonosov Foal) – A lying foal ‘Odyssey’ dreams of his odyssey through life – black Biro drawing made of layers of images inspired from ‘The Red and the White’, Miklós Jancsó, 1967, ‘White Mane’, Albert Lamorisse, 1953 and ‘Les sang des bêtes’, Georges Franju, 1949.  Hope for a bright future is portrayed in the innocent form of the young foal’s figurine as Odyssey faces his journey through life, tracing his playful youth as a colt ridden bareback by a young boy to cavalry horse of the revolutionary Red Army, to its journeys end at an abattoir.  This piece depicts the fate of many war-horses, often cruelly treated and asks whether this is a fitting demise for an animal who has given its life to war service for humans, or if it’s destiny into the meat trade alongside other livestock is justified?

Further images will be released as this project continues.