This evening, I watched “David Lynch: The Art Life” at Plymouth Arts Centre. I wasn’t sure what to expect, as my knowledge of his artwork was limited to seeing a couple of images online. The film covered his life before he started to work seriously in film, starting with his early family life, progressing into his love for painting as a teenager, progressing onto his art education and experimentation with painting, animation and film.
The narration was done entirely by Lynch himself, giving a closer connection between his account of past events with more current footage of him working in his studio space. There wasn’t much in terms of technical insights into his processes, but the stories he told of his childhood and relationships resonated in his choice of subject in his paintings.
One thing that struck about watching him work was his fearlessness to work big and with unusual materials, some I couldn’t even pinpoint what they were. I’m sure I saw him use insulation at one point. He goes in with huge amount of paint and uses his hands to smear it across the board. He cuts holes into the boards he works on and drills holes to put wire in.
He uses smaller pieces that are far more intricate that become part of the large overall piece, working with wire and clay. I remember Lynch making a small face with a red hat, much like a clown, using clay. He painted the clay piece and when he was done, he ran into under water, blurring and smudging all of his carefully placed paintwork. This seemed to be an odd and unsettling process for me, maybe that’s the perfectionist in me, but the result he got was beautiful. He’s definitely not afraid to bend the “rules” of materials and processes related to them.
I also enjoyed his use of words as part of his work. This is something that I have started to investigate in my more raw pieces. I really enjoy his handwriting. In an age where it seems that brush lettering is trending, and my handwriting isn’t romantic or particularly interesting, I like the simplicity of his writing, which I feel corresponds well with his choice of words, which seem very natural and unrehearsed. Like I say, I have started to do this, mainly picking out key words that are relevant of how I’m feeling at the time or what I’m drawing. I have yet to string sentences together in my work, maybe that’s the next step, as simple as it is.
Overall, there wasn’t a huge amount I could take from the film into my work, but I did really enjoy it and would definitely watch again. Maybe watching it again later on in this project, I may find something new in there that I didn’t see before, that could help. What I’ve taken from watching this though is to not feel limited by traditional methods of using a material and to play with size.
David Lynch: The Art Life. (2016). Directed by Jon Nguyen. USA: Absurda