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Drawing Every Day – Bryan Eccleshall


Tutor Bryan Eccleshall is already familiar to readers of WeAreOCA for his recent post on the value of just getting on with it. Here is a video in which he talks about a project he is working on this year – a drawing a day. This work will feature in an exhibition of Bryan’s work which he is planning for January at Bank Street Arts in Sheffield (and to which we will be running a study visit). In the meantime you can follow Bryan’s progress at 2013-365-drawings.blogspot.co.uk or catch up with him on facebook.
In addition to tutoring for the OCA and drawing every day, Bryan is researching for a practice-led Fine Art PhD at Sheffield Hallam University.


Posted by author: Jane Parry
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21 thoughts on “Drawing Every Day – Bryan Eccleshall

  • Hi Brian,
    I like the way the project (or challenge) has taken on its own life: The way your series of photos have been transformed into a series of drawings, which have themselves transformed your own drawing skill and speed and vocabulary.
    One of the short-listed entries in the BP portrait award was a series of small portraits which individually were not very remarkable, but mounted together as a grid of faces was really engaging. It allowed the viewer to enjoy lots of differences and similarities between the various faces, and in a way to appreciate the tenacity of the artist in creating such a series of similar but different things. There was, for me, an awareness that this was somehow a meditative task, requiring quiet patience and focus and a resistance to being diverted.
    Do you find that this 365 project is similarly challenging?
    How are you planning to mount it? each day in turn? or looking for patterns and themes?
    Separately, your project has reminded me of how much I don’t like sketchbooks. I much prefer to work on loose paper – it seems the image has much more potential when it is not confined to a bound page.
    This is encouraging me to abandon the sketchbook in favour of a big sheath of loose paper – but maybe to also force myself to finish each sketch to a greater degree instead of just allowing myself to jump straight to the next idea.

  • I’m wrestling with how to display the works for he show. I’ve gone to the expense of framing one from each month which means my original idea – of mounting each months pictures in a grid like a calendar – won’t work. In each month there’s an oversized image, you see. I think I’ll display each month as a straight line, but the gallery walls aren’t huge and I need to check that I can fit twelve lines on them. As to how I fix the unframed works, I’m not sure. The obvious answer is white-tac, but that seems a bit cheap. I’m also thinking that the walls shouldn’t be white. Mounted on pale grey it will give the squares of white paper a presence of their own.
    On the other point, there’s something really powerful about a wall full of similar images. I once saw an exhibition of Joseph Beuys drawings. Each was inscrutable and fragile, but together they started talking to each other (as it were), which leant the whole something that each component couldn’t hope to have.

    • Hallo – your comment about the power of a wall full of similar images reminded me of the television programme earlier this week about Edmund de Waal. Taken individually, they are just small pots, but the impact of almost 1,500 small pots, all white but all different is indeed powerful. Although I am studying textiles, I much enjoy the cross over of inspiration from one medium to another

  • Hello Bryan, it is great to have an update on this project.
    Re: presentation, have you thought of using digital frames or a projector, both methods would certainly add a time element which would resonate with the project.

    • Although I’m not averse to work shown that way, I want to show all the drawings at once and give people the opportunity to appreciate them as a whole. A time-based projection wouldn’t allow for that.
      I think I’ve solved the problem. I’m going to show each month as a line of drawings, with the framed one in the right position. I’m going to use some non-permanent transparent glue dots. They’re flatter than blu-tac and re-positionable. I’m hoping to make the wall a pale grey in order that the small drawings have a presence (otherwise, they’d be white on white).
      One thing I haven’t mentioned here so far is that some of these drawings have been sold. Rather than get them back for the show, I’m getting the buyers to photograph the drawing in its new home. I then draw that image in the same style, and use that in the original drawing’s stead.

  • Hi Bryan
    Thanks for articulating this so clearly. If you put in the work, something happens!
    I am interested in Japanese calligraphy and was inspired by your drawing project to do a set of calligraphies every day — well at least 5 out of 7 days — for a year. I’m only on about day 20, repeating the same set of 5 or 6 characters. Progress from day to day is not so perceptible but looking back there is a marked difference in the quality of the line from day 1 to day 20. I’m also doing some free forms and there is a growing sensitivity and assuredness. There is something very powerful about engaging in a repeated process.

  • Love the approach Bryan – maybe, as with politicians, it pays to go out and do a “normal job” I`m sure it establishes a much better perspective and looking forward to seeing the finalised project in June.

  • For a while I followed Kimon Nicholaides advice on doing two drawings a day. One was from point of reference- anything, a chair, an apple, a corner of the room. The other was a drawing of a recently remembered place. In his book he used the example of the local drug store, as there was a certain complexity to it. I decided to attempt a drawing of the green area i walked across twice daily taking my daughter to and from school. However, once i put pencil to paper I realised i hadn’t a clue what it looked like, beyond generic trees and buildings. i could picture the shapes of some of the paths and had a vague idea of what the cricket club building looked like- but how many windows did it actually have? So next day on my walk to the school, rather than chattering or day dreaming, i actually looked around me and made a mental note of how things fitted together. Back home, i redid the drawing. I did this with other things too, like a drawing of an exhibition of dinosaurs made by my daughter’s class, the conductor and strings from a concert i had just been to, friends shelling peas at their garden table, a night at the pub. Usually i was woefully lacking in detail. I know drawing is not just about observed detail, but it made me realise how little i actually looked about me- i was usually more in my head dreaming of something else. As the practice grew, I started to looks more at things naturally and remember more. I was thrilled with this and found i could make up whole drawings that had some kind of life to them and not just be generic. I haven’t done it for a while, so am not sure how much of it has stayed with me. However, I know that if I do start again and feel frustrated with not having a clue again that the process improves extremely rapidly just by doing it.

  • I was reminded of your original raisin d’être when watching Edmund De Waal, in “What Do Artists Do All Day”, multiple pieces capturing not just a moment in time but replicating an action.

  • Well, I could put a spanner in the works by saying hard work is not always of great merit. Not in your case, but someone just working away for the sake of it could just be reinforcing bad habits. I’ve never been drawn to the Calvanistic work ethic myself. I think sometimes stepping back can be just as useful as it let’s other things seep in the gaps.

  • This is a breath of fresh air for me Bryan. I am stuck with my course work at the moment, always worrying that I don’t have anything philosophical or political to say. How emancipating therefore, to be given permission to just ‘do summat’ without the anxieties of needing to work in some pretentious pseudo-psychological message.
    Thank you!

  • This thread has probably run its course now, but I wanted to thank you all for the positive comments and to add that I’m not saying that doing should replace thinking / philosophy / politics that, for an artist, it might precede it. The works I’ve made (and I’m making other stuff as well), are a startign point for my reading and writing. The PhD I’m doing is Practice-led, which means that I’m working things out when making things.
    It’s important, as I write above, to shave something from which to stand back. Make work, think about it and its consequences, make more work in the light of what you’ve found out. It ought to be a virtuous cycle. It’s not always as easy as that, but it’s important, for me at least, to keep the making going. Whenever my practice has stalled, it’s because I’ve opver-thought the practical side of things. Stripping away some of the decision making (how big, what media, etc.), frees me up to simply make the work.
    I now know (or trust) that the work I make will sit within the practice and/or shed light on it, so I don’t worry too much about its status. It’s my work, from me, so it’s bound to have a relation with other stuff I’ve made, surely?

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