Monday, November 5, 2012
Taking the Red Queens Advice
Drawing is an end to itself.
Drawing is about seeing. No other visual art seems to sharpen ones ability to see and appreciate the world as much as drawing does. Drawing is also a foundation that for probably a good 50 years was dissed in art school programs. Not until the late 80s and early 90s did drawing begin to be part of foundation for visual art programs again. That's a good thing.
Ten years ago I had a year-long project involving drawing in the near dark of the regional theatre, Pendragon. For a year I had to look to see, know where my sketchbook was and be able to rely on my eye to tell my hand what it had to do. The results were fascinating to me. Some drawings were useable as is, others had lines that were eloquent but in such a rats nest they had to be extracted from the drawing to compose another drawing. I still find myself drawing without looking whether in life sessions or plein air landscape.
I gave a workshop, "Seeing in a New/Old Way – Language of Drawing" which left both the participants and myself exhausted. I approached the content for the sessions by making each day a surprise and challenge to some preconceived ideas about what drawing is and is not.
What was I doing that made drawing such a challenge for my participants? I worked to get them see without looking. Pencil on paper. Eyes on object. Draw. No looking at the paper. No lifting of the pencil. No peeking. Different mediums were used over the week: pencil, charcoal, compressed charcoal, charcoal pencil, ink and brush - even eraser. Inspiration for some of the exercises came from England, a book, "Drawing Projects". Other daily projects were from past drawing workshops that prove to be good wake up exercises for someone exploring drawing.
Assigning various "blind drawing" exercises kept knocking on the doors of awareness in each participants head, making them reach past the logical way of "looking" at things to discover actually seeing what they were looking at. It was exciting to see the progress in the weeks time. Yet, every day there was a lapse in seeing, a reverting to looking that needed another wake up kickstart to get back to seeing again.
What that means to me (I'm no scientist so bear with me) is seeing, drawing needs to happen on a daily basis in order to stay in one place, let alone move forward in ones work. Since drawing is the basis for painting - at least for me - making it a point to to draw/see every day is the way to move forward in my work.
I take the Red Queens advice with regards to drawing - I draw as often as I can. Even with that effort, it always surprises me what I miss when I have not made the point to see what I am drawing. So it is resolved; draw twice as much in order to see everything that is missed by only looking. "… to get somewhere else, you must run at least twice as fast …" That's my take on the Red Queen.
Back to the studio.