“Pencilled as it were: drawings” takes its name from an essay first published in 1803 by the man who first gave names to clouds. Luke Howard's cloud names, such as cumulus and stratus along with his descriptions make up the words of the drawings. The lines and words show how long a line and how many words single HB pencils can draw or write on paper.
> Framed drawings, Elissa Crystal Gallery, Vancouver, 2011.
As the artist and maker of this series, I'd like to describe how it came to be. Initially I noticed some facts about a pencil in a textbook, “One pencil can write 50,000 English words or make a line 55 kilometers long.”* It begged to be tested. I found one HB pencil made a line of 2.88148 km and another pencil made a line of 2.87861 km as in the drawings of the same names. For the English words I used Luke Howard's “Essay on the Modifications of Clouds”** because I wanted real English words and as I would be reading and writing the text, I thought an essay on clouds would be interesting. By writing words, drawings “11,449 English words” and “10,058 English words” were made. The drawings are evidence of how a pencil truly performs. As I had read and written I became interested in what its author suggested, “frequent observation of the sky". I began to take notes and make drawings in my sketchbook, then transferred my findings into a single drawing, “frequent observation.” Howard's essay, although leading science of its time, is amazing for its poetic language combined with cloud words. The pleasure in reading was a surprise. One of the phrases in the essay, "tracing the clouds” seemed to bring drawing to cloud observations. The drawing of the same name roughly replicates a essay page. A scrap of paper as a cloud was placed on every cloud word and traced before the (sky) lines were drawn. In making these drawings, I discovered much about pencils, lines, words, language, and clouds. – Louise Phillips
* Ackert, Patricia and Linda Lee, “Pencils and Pens,” Reading & Vocabulary Development 2: Thoughts & Notions, Second Edition, Publisher: Thomson Heinle, 2005. page 15.
** Luke Howard, “Essay on the Modifications of Clouds”, first published 1803.
Copyright © 2021 Louise Phillips. All Rights Reserved.