Negotiating with the Tool / by marisa vitiello

I was recently asked by a new friend what I was working on. I said "I'm drawing the same drawing over and over again with only horizontal lines." He asked me if I had OCD issues and I was amused because that's about the last way I'd describe my artistic practice. 

Anyone who knows me knows I love playing with materials. I take classes, buy art supplies and collect ideas about how to do things that I've never done. What's harder for me is to focus, to repeat, to stay in place. In fact, it takes a lot of resistance to avoid sharing all the different ways I've been playing with materials here on my website. 

wire brushes.jpg

Then along came these "steel brushes." My friend Rob McKaughan gave them to me and I've been having so much fun with them working on the drawings you will find under my drawings tab. Partly, they are fun because they are unpredictable. I don't have complete control of whether I will get a full line the width of the tool or a series of thinner lines. That unpredictability reminds me of what I liked about printmaking. It's not me that makes the work, it's me and the tool. I have to figure out what the tool wants and what it will give in return. So far, that's horizontal lines. I've probably done 22 of these drawings and I'm starting to break the horizontal line rule more intentionally. We'll see what's next.