Last Fall while working on the panels which would become Elegy Petra rediscovered the method of frottage. By rubbing a graphite stick on sheets of hot press watercolor paper laid on top of the collaged Elegy panels she was able to capture as a 'print-drawing' what would become the substructure of Concertinaed. Here is a closer look back at the first Petra Frottage.
That foray away from the wet medium of watercolors and into the hard, smeary gray-ness of graphite must have awoken something in Petra. When she say the slightly raised shapes glued to the sheets of Bristol paper she dug out some sheets of 18 x 24 inch 80lb white drawing paper, grabbed her graphite sticks and started rubbing.
Here is a very short video of her at work on the newer rubbings.
Once she had made rubbings of all ten of the collages she laid them out on the studio floor.
Then she packed all the rubbings away into a portfolio, except for one. She took that one into the greenhouse and hung it on the 'clean' side if the wall facing the buildings exterior wall and not the between-space facing the easel.
The thing about frottage, at least when Petra is doing it, is it is not precise. It leaves echo-y, messy textures and marks. Marks that are not quite chance but not really planned. Petra appeared intent on working with the marks, like we did in Concertinaed, but by herself and different.
She wanted to draw.
Where her watercolors are free and flowing her work with graphite pencils and erasers is tight and controlled. She began by using a white plastic eraser to eliminate areas of superfluous marks on the paper in the spaces between the rubbings of the shapes and outside the 'edges' of the 11 x 14 inch paper upon which the shapes were glued. Similar to how she and I decided to make space in the original paintings by cutting them apart and gluing the fragments to the larger sheet of paper.
Here is what the frottage then looked like in whole and in detail.
Slowly Petra worked on the drawing over the course of about two weeks. It must have been a change for her to work standing up instead of sitting at a table. Her preferred pencil is a 6B and she builds up tone using multiple layers marks applied and then removed using a kneaded eraser. At times a mahlstick can be sighted in her right hand. When the graphite smudges and smears too much the white plastic eraser is brought out again. A few pics in natural light on a cloudy day -hence the paper does not appear as bright white and the graphite is not quite as dark as when seen in the flesh.
When she stopped work on this drawing she packed it away into the portfolio with the remaining frottages but took another one out and hung it on the wall. A pic of the second drawing will follow.