Fingers Dipped in Water

In the previous post, I showed a series of abstract drawings I made on my phone. Digital finger painting. Making those miniature images of line and colour in motion were a therapy for me at various times. A way to pull emotion out of me expressed as visual motion.

As I described, working on my phone was a space between other spaces. A way to duck into a creative space when the circumstances of a time or place didn’t allow for other modes of expression.

What began as pure abstraction and motion studies in those phone drawings lead somewhat unexpectedly to creating images of imagined landscapes — or more often seascapes.

Oceans Inside, 2021

The abstracted motion is still there and my tendency to have many frenetic drawn lines layered on each other remains. But from out of that — wisps of cloud, crashing waves, and plays of sunlight come through.

Tidal Memory, 2020

As I have talked about in previous posts. I have Aphantasia, which means that I am unable to “see” mental imagery.

So while in a few drawings, I refer to memories of places, I can’t actually visualize a place of any sort in my head. So these are memories but they are also visual impressions formed from the feelings of places more than the specifics.

Untitled , 2021
Imagined Vantage Point, 2020

Sometimes those memories solidify somewhat into scenes that feel like they have a direct reference point but they are still (at least consciously to me) imagined. I’ve never done anything like plein-air drawing but I’d like to try.

River Memory, 2020

But there were also scenes that, while they had a sense of place, were tinged with fantasy.

Middle Distance, 2020
Scratch the Sky, 2020

Raging seas have been a common theme. I have a deep connection to bodies of water despite spending very little time on or in them. I’m a poor swimmer and haven’t been on that many boats.

Sets, 2020
Cresting, 2020
Magnetic Sea, 2020
Blue, 2020

Land comes back into sight eventually and there can be relative stillness.

Desert Memory, 2020
Field Memory, 2020
Desert Memory 2, 2020

Even on land emotions can crash though.

Lightning Memory, 2020
Days of Heaven, 2020

The drawings above were all made with fingers on my phone (in the Procreate Pocket app) between 2020 and 2021.

As is usual for me, that particular way of making art happened in bursts over a few days and weeks and then mostly disappeared. Those two years were wild with turmoil, change, and loss. Art, where I could make space for it, was a way to cope through much of it.

Into 2021, there was some semblance of stability and the chance to step away from the phone or the computer more often — to breathe a bit more and to even stand in person on shorelines looking out at unimagined waters.

This week, while looking at these old images, I thought I would venture back there and see what imagined space might come up for me. I have a new iPad from work and an Apple Pencil for the first time. Here’s what my mind and hand spontaneously came out with.

Breakthrough Glitter, 2024

To anyone reading, do you have creative places you go to or modes of working that help through difficult times?