The Benefits of Grafix Drafting Film by Artist Carole Silverstein
I have been using Grafix Drafting Film exclusively for almost 20 years as the surface for my acrylic ink paintings. It is such a beautiful, translucent, seductive surface and I love the way it takes the washes and stains of ink. The way I work with ink is with some matte, transparent, and iridescent variations and applications. The various ways the ink sits upon the translucent material, it adds beautifully to the floating, ephemeral effect I am looking for. The drafting film is like a parchment the way it seems to absorb and give off light.
In 1997, I started using it to trace complex patterns from behind, and to overlay different patterns on different sheets over each other in an installation on the wall. At the time, I had been making small acrylic ink paintings on watercolor paper with many complex layers. I moved to painting on the film in order to limit myself to how many obsessive layers I would put down. The film can’t take as many layers as the absorbent watercolor paper, and the ink sits more on top of the surface. Those limits had the effect of making me enlarge the scale of my work instead, and paradoxically allowing me to use more elaborate, labyrinthine, and complex patterns.
The translucence of the material allows me to trace on top, by placing a section of a pattern underneath it (I work sitting on the floor). Because I can mostly see through it, I can then paint the pattern on top of the film with brush and acrylic ink, adding and changing as I go. I will use a pattern I am interested in for its visual complexity and symbolism; for example, a 19th-century aberrant wave pattern from an Indian woodblock print, a Japanese chrysanthemum pattern that is a whirling vortex, a Celtic knot, etc. I use patterns that express the idea of the arabesque and then I alter and extend those patterns and forms out into the rest of the composition as I intuitively see fit. I never know how it will end, and where I will break the pattern or space as I always do in some way. Following the idea of Persian flaw, the weavers of those historical, magnificent carpets would put a flaw purposely into the design so as not to compete with the perfection of God. I don’t pre-plan this flaw – it naturally & organically occurs in my process as I go – and is to me an important expression of the imperfect.
For more examples see four of my paintings at the 56th Venice Biennale in a show entitled “We Must Risk Delight: 20 Artists from Los Angeles”, co-organized by bardoLA and the Academia di Belle Arti di Venezia. My paintings are archivally mounted on white aluminum custom backings as frames (without a covering of glass or Plexiglas). That way one can see the space and light of the paintings move and change as one moves physically in the room, and is another important metaphor of the work – of light and illumination. I could never achieve this without the beautiful quality and properties of the drafting film itself.
To see more of my work: www.carolesilverstein.com or visit my Instagram account at @carolesilverstein.