While I love writing in calligraphy and love words themselves and the power they have, I have been drawn lately to the scribble. While the fancy term “mark making” can have a wide assortment of lines, loops, incised and stamps marks, I think “scribbles” are what I am enjoying of late. It’s a sort of writing that is illegible, but it can speak volumes without having any discernible words. My favorite way to create these scribbles is in gesso before I even add paint. It’s like working in a secret language because the gesso is white over a white piece of paper or white primed board and while the gesso is wet I inscribe my secret language with the tip of my paint brush for a wide mark or a tooth pick or other tool for more delicate writing. After the gesso has dried, I applied one or two colors and buff the surface to spread the wash of color around, still allowing the writing to show through.
Sometime I really like the reveal – having darker color as my base, then applying gesso or another brighter color of paint over the top – more of a true sgraffito technique. Looking back, I see different energy in each stroke and swirl, sometimes more meandering, sometimes more urgent like a doctor’s signature at the bottom of a prescription. Sometimes each line flows without breaks, while other times it is like I am creating words and sentences with pauses and breaks, moments that change in the flow of time.
Working in art journals, it is almost a kind of therapy to scribble instead of write. It’s like you are confessing something – but only you and your therapist (the journal) know what you are really saying. Although the scribbles are completely random and not done in any specific way – just movement, I find that I can still tell whether they are upside down or not, but that is true of all of my abstract paintings as well. The is a definite way in which things have balance and form and line is no exception.
I wonder if years from now, some civilization will find some little bit of this style of scribble and try to discern what language it is written in, what words it represents. Or perhaps I have already written in that different language and I just don’t recognize it myself yet.