My daddy always said there were no lines — no real ones — but there are.
And there are not … it’s complicated.
We learn to draw lines around things out there, forms in space. A membrane that separates and divides, has no dimension, a theoretical, mathematical line: it has two sides but no extent. Buddhists might disagree but it’s one way of ordering and structuring the world, very Enlightenment but very useful. I need them to relate to that world, get a grip on it, make it manageable.
Saturated, drowning in a flood of images, the more I care the more I have to stop, freeze frame, and draw … tiny sketches with a brush and paint — I like the gloopiness … it’s less elegant, less pretty than ink — to isolate, simplify, understand.
Like obsessively doodling in a lecture or while talking on the phone, focussing by not focussing. And usually, slightly fetishistically, focussing on the tool, the weapon, the vehicle, the inanimate thing, the place, getting the facts straight. Come at it sideways and get a good grip. Be as clear and calm, honest and naive, obvious and understandable, passionate but non-judgemental as I can … to the point of ambivalence … almost … it’s complicated.
Each image has to be as simple and direct, honest and accessible as possible. Like stained glass in a Medieval church.
Partly because I think they should be and partly because their origins are usually not. Obscure, nebulous, complex.
Dregs from dreams, residue of day dreams, stalking fears and sneaking joys. Images you can’t scrub from your eyeballs or your brain. Scenes which materialised already fully formed and acts which spontaneously self-organised from a random selection of ingredients.
So I draw. With a brush. Small and quick and sometimes over and over again. And the computer then takes on the role of the anonymous carvers who transmuted Hokusai’s delicate but dramatic brush drawings into woodblocks.
I don’t want to disappear behind some pretend-objective “Tintin” line but I’d like to step back a little and paint the best painting of the drawing I can. To explore what grabbed me, what I felt, what I saw, and to look at the choices I made instinctively, the tautness of this flip and the heaviness of that push; what I learned.
Painting the lines brings them to life in their own right — a living, moving line has intentions, motivations and directions of its own. Meaning. It has dimension, weight, a fullness and surface tension of its own. In the same way a form pushes into the space around it, here the space pushes back and that pressure generates lines that are as real as the things they help to represent.
Painting means I can then flood the board with colour: clear and bright, as totally flat as I can get, digital colour as direct as stained glass but as complex and as far from the tube as possible. And the enclosed areas fine-tune and challenge the demands of the lines, pushing back and finally ending in an apparently predetermined, natural equilibrium.
And painting them as large as I can means that they fill your field of vision as they filled mine, glued to the computer screen. And painting them as flat as I can preserves the distance I need.
However flat and smooth and blank I try to be, the substrate and the underpainting are still there, however cool and deadpan I try to be the brush strokes and colour boundaries still have depth and life. And I couldn’t live without them.
My Patented Aesthetic Synthesising Compass
Lines which join minimalism to manga via Poussin, Caulfield to Marvel via Warhol, which sneak out of Hopper’s rooms, delicately skirt Luc Tuymans on the way to meet Emory Douglas.
New lines in the world but my lines don’t seek to divide, they join, they connect, like zips, inside and outside, content and context, me and not me, us.
Aaron was born and brought up on the edge of the Peak District and originally read philosophy at UCL but eventually grew up and went back to study fine art in Bristol.
Came to Penwith fifteen years ago, on a whim, and has never left.
From one raggedy edge to another.