Breathing Exercises

“Each stroke of the painting records a single exhaled breath.”

Breathworks invites you to respond to your breath online through creativity. In our current climate, breathing has become a recurring theme, touching upon health, politics and the environments we inhabit. Artist Tania Robertson contributes to Breathworks with these dance-inspired watercolour paintings, each stroke the result of a single breath. Here’s Tania’s story.

Tania Robertson, be (detail 1), 2013. Image © the artist

‘“How wonderful the air smells!” cried Piccolo, taking very deep sniffs of air. The air was so cold and fresh that it tickled his nose and made him splutter, and then laugh!’ [Chapter One, Prince Piccolo sets off in search of Happiness, Seven Roads to Happiness, Desmond Marwood, 1969]

At dance classes as a child every lesson began with breathing and clapping exercises. Learning to breathe and to mark rhythm are fundamental to dance. This basic training at a young age combined with approaches to painting discovered in later life, including Abstract Expressionism as the work of Jackson Pollock and others is described and Chinese and Japanese calligraphy, coalesced in a small body of work, ‘breathing exercise’, 2013.

Each stroke of the painting records a single exhaled breath. The stroke began when a brush, in this case a Chinese ink brush, was dipped into a pot of thinned watercolour paint whilst drawing in a single breath. The brush was then laid at the top of the paper and the wrist drawn down the paper as the breath was exhaled.

Tania Robertson, be (detail 3), 2013. Image

Despite the slow and regular discipline of the approach, in, out, in, out, the painted strokes themselves clearly show that holding and releasing a breath is far from regular and mechanical.

Words and artwork by Tania Robertson. Follow Tania on Twitter and Instagram.

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