• Dominika Kupcova

Returning to my Drawing Practice

This journal post started off as a way to put words to the joy I’ve felt at getting back into drawing over the course of last year. However, I very quickly realised that to talk about my drawing practice properly, I’d have to take a little stroll back down the memory lane. I hope you enjoy a little peak into the evolution of my creativity, from early childhood up to now, when the enforced pause on the world allowed for me to carve out a little time to pick up pens and paper again. If you prefer to just read about my most recent work, you can skip to the last few paragraphs, but I do hope you indulge me in a little nostalgia.

I have been a creative soul for as long as I can remember. When I was little, I was never seen without a huge pencil case filled to the brim with pens and colouring pencils. I would spend hours covering every surface possible with drawings and paintings. I was even allowed to paint on the walls of my room, which my parents graciously allowed and then definitely regretted when they had to cover the creations in layers and layers of white paint when moving out! I absolutely adored creating imaginary characters and worlds to get lost in using just my tiny hands, and I also really loved the physical process of sliding a pen across a page, or swirling a brush into paint and dipping it into a water pot. I feel like I always appreciated the meditative nature of creating something from just an idea in my head. This remains the biggest joy for me to this day, and I still have to pinch myself occasionally that I have had the opportunities to bring to life so many beautiful objects and artworks that now provide other people delight too.

Two photos of Dominika at age 2 drawing at a wooden desk. She's sitting in a white chair and has lots of books and toys on the table. There are sheer white lace curtains behind her. In the left photo she is concentrating on the page, in the photo on the right she is looking straight at the camera and smiling gently. She has light blonde curly hair and is wearing a white patterned onesie.

Tiny me drawing away

As drawing and painting was always one of my favourite activities in childhood, I was enrolled in a formal art class at a young age, and it was the most transformative couple of years. I was taught by a professional (slightly odd but very talented) artist and gained an incredible wealth of skills. I find the idea of a teeny eight-year-old drawing still lives and sculpting with clay, carving lino to create prints and having an expressive painting featured in an art catalogue quite amusing and adorable now, but there is no doubt these were the foundations that led to me becoming a professional designer and maker fifteen years later.

Fast forward to moving to Scotland, when I came across a roadblock, as by the time I joined my year group all the Art & Design classes at my new school were full. I continued to hone my creativity at home though, exploring different ways of expressing myself on my own terms, and as soon as I could I caught up on the few years of art education I missed. While I thoroughly enjoyed and excelled at a variety subjects, with a particular penchant for chemistry, I could never really shake the feeling in my bones that art was my true calling. The decision to apply to art school was not an easy one, and I knew that pursuing a creative career would present numerous challenges. Ultimately though, I knew that I had to pursue my dreams.

Personal ink drawing and a high school drawing and collage of a peacock

I spent a lovely four years at art school exploring a variety of materials and techniques, honing my style, and growing as a maker and as a person. My course was project based and involved a lot of research and development work, providing numerous opportunities for me to continue experimenting with drawing, painting, and mixed media. I quickly identified my favourite way of producing two-dimensional work, as I returned again and again to creating repetitive patterns and mark making. I particularly enjoyed some of the drawings and cut outs I made for a ring project in my third year, in which I chose to study the aesthetics of DNA as my inspiration. This research formed the basis of my final body of work at university, and my subsequent collections.

5 linear abstract pen drawings on white paper.

Some of my university drawings

As I graduated from art school and almost immediately set up my own creative business, for the very first time drawing became a luxury I could not justify fitting into my schedule. While being a jeweller naturally provided me with a wealth of creative output, and making objects has always felt incredibly natural and rewarding, I must admit I started to miss just simply putting pen to paper. In March of last year, I suddenly found myself in a position when I couldn't travel to my studio in order to practice my craft. After a few months I started to feel incredibly empty and viscerally missed creating. I experienced such contentment when I finally decided to just open a blank sketchbook, and draw. Thankfully, drawing is a medium you can participate in absolutely anywhere with no need for any specialist equipment or materials. I was definitely a little rusty to begin with, but I quickly got into a rhythm and started to enjoy the outcomes. I didn’t share the drawings with anyone for a long time, as I wanted it to remain a source of joy reserved exclusively for myself to begin with. When running a business, there is an undeniable pressure to always post on social media, always create new collections, always think about whether your idea can become a product that someone will buy. I had not made anything simply for the sake of doing so and the pleasure of creating in a long three years at that point. It has been a luxury I do not take for granted.

My latest linear explorations

I also find drawing so incredibly meditative, just as I did when I was a child. This is especially the case with my current linear studies, which involve the drawing of a straight dark line over and over and over until the organic abstract shape is filled. I can get completely lost in the process while listening to a podcast or watching a tv show. It’s a great way to keep my hands and mind occupied in these challenging, uncertain times.

Some of my favourite current drawings

While I’m currently enjoying focusing on the pure craft of drawing, I have daydreams of turning the explorations into products, once I feel that I’ve developed them to the point that I am really satisfied with. I would especially love to see them made into prints that could adorn people’s homes. Expanding into home décor and interior design is a long-term goal of mine and this will be a tiny first step towards realising it. I also think they could translate beautifully to tote bags, t-shirts, or tea towels. Basically, anything made of fabric!

Small collections of drawings

While I have a lot of confidence in my jewellery and have no issue promoting and selling it, I have to admit the idea of trying out something completely new and out of my comfort zone has made me a little nervous. The “Will anyone like this?” question has crossed my mind many times, and I think it’s important to be honest about that. Despite the doubts, I strongly believe in my business remaining flexible and open to new concepts and ideas. In the name of that philosophy, I will need to be brave and attempt new techniques and disciplines, and in the process, expose myself to potential setbacks or disappointments. No matter the outcome of this project though, the fact will remain that returning to my drawing practice has been an overwhelmingly positive experience at an incredibly tough time, and I am endlessly grateful it.