This week I wanted to focus on experimenting with chance and having little control with how the weather can assist my work. Using the inspiration from Virginia Katz and her series ‘Wind’ 2000-2008, I used and manipulated both wind and rain to form textures, marks and patterns on paper using graphite, ink, water and permanent markers. Katz describes her process on her website:

‘‘This project was a collaboration with the wind to record its invisible form. By tying string to tree branches and taping pens at the end of the strings, the wind’s energy force left its markings on paper that was weighted on the ground.’’ (1)

After my last experiment of leaving a canvas outside, I wanted to try a different approach and see whether I could ‘track’ the winds pattern and use the rain as a medium in itself. I first wanted to try a similar method that Katz uses by tying string around pens and letting the wind blow the pens nib that is resting on the papers surface. Instead of attaching it to branches like Katz did, I used a table in my gardens which worked just as well. By attaching these to just touch the surface it allowed for interesting and unusual patterns to form and I feel as though this was one of the more successful pieces out of the ones I tried. Leaving it out for 15 hours allowed me to properly track how wind, although invisible, can be visualised!

Using ink was also a medium I thought about trying in different ways to see what unusual mark marking I could achieve. Firstly, I used some catkins I collected when on a walk, hung them from a tree in my garden and coated them with ink letting them drape across my paper. With the wind picking up speed, it smudged the excess ink that dripped from the branches and moved it in larger patches and sharp scratches. In addition, the rain mixed with the ink created splashes, merging the wet and dry ink to form assorted textures. I didn’t leave this one out as long as my pen piece as the rain merging with the ink started to wash away the scratches so retrieved it after 2 hours.

Next, I still wanted to experiment with ink but in a different way so tied the cartridges with string and let them hang and drip down in the wind and rain. This didn’t work exactly how I thought it would due to a few reasons! Firstly, the ink didn’t leak as much as I wanted it to and secondly, the paper blew away landing in the mud and soil. Although all of this happened, the final outcome wasn’t completely wasted as the mark making the soil created was very interesting and tactile. I ended up hanging the piece of paper so gravity could the wet ink around even more. Overall, it wasn’t the most successful but still allowed me to develop my work.

Finally, I tried testing how well graphite would work so used the same method as my first pen experiment, tying a couple of pencils with string so the wind could blow them creating different patterns.  I used the darkest pencils I had (9B and 8B) so that some type of mark making would show up, although I accepted it was going to be quite faint and minimal. Although this was the case, the faint patterns created a somewhat eerie and delicate piece which was formed of hundreds, maybe thousands, of tiny dots (reminding me of pointillism). In the future if I attempted this again, I would try to use charcoal sticks instead as they may have created a darker pattern to visualise it clearer as well as producing different marks possibly smudging more.

Just out of interest I also checked the wind strength and pattern using an online gauge. It stated that the peak gusts of the day reached 31mph around the time I started to set up my experiments, this is classified as a ‘Strong breeze’ (25-31mph) but almost a ‘Gale’ (32-38mph) (3). The wind was particularly strong that day which did aid me in producing the artwork that I did. 

I feel as though this was a useful set of experiments as it allowed me to develop my use of weather as a key element within my work. By taking inspiration from Virginia Katz and my own thought out tests, it was interesting to see how I could track and visualise weather events that aren’t usually seen. The most successful pieces for me were the permanent marker and the Catkin ink, these combined the use of natural elements and fauna like the wind, rain and seeds whilst using art mediums like ink to produce a unique end result. By allowing the weather to take the control away from me and leave it to chance is playing a huge role in the creation of my art and I will continue to focus on this as I develop my work.