Drawing in the time of Covid
It is good to be reminded that the true talent of an artist is in their eyes, not their hand.
The facility of the hand is just hard work.
As a kid, I remember thinking that I so wished I could just take a picture with my eyes, because then I could show people what I saw, but instead I had to figure out to use a medium to record it. If I could have any object from my past restored to me, it would be my moose. At the age of five, I drew a moose that was then confiscated by my teacher for a school art show, and never to be seen again. In my mind's eye it was a perfect rendering. I would love to see what my 5 year old self thought said "moose" so perfectly.
I have drawn and rendered thousands of things since that time, but a few life drawing examples still stand out; A gestural life drawing of a 5 second pose, that still gives me an "artgasm" when I think of it, because it perfectly captured the move I saw for just an instant. And the life drawing, where my teacher finally got me to understand that looking at the negative space was equal to looking at the positive space. There are many more, and many more that were just practice! A third was when, after weeks of short poses, the model was told to pose in one pose for the entire 1 hour class. We were ecstatic. We spent the hour working hard to make the best drawings we ever did. On our way out the door the instructor took our drawings and ripped them up. Then asked, what we had seen and learned during the past hour that would last longer than the drawing. That was a particularly hard and strong lesson. We were to see, learn and grow; not just produce.
Seeing has always been the highlight for me. I have never understood boredom. No matter where you are there are things around you to be astonished by. A photo group that I am in had people lamenting that they had no great vistas or interesting things to shoot. So for the next month, I only took pictures within a one block radius of my home. They are some of my favorites. Here are three from that month.
I have drawn waiting for the dentist, DMV and prescriptions to be filled. Now I draw at outdoor cafes a lot. These are all observations; to train first my eye, then my hand. Photography is the media I choose most for observing. One has to think about the focus, the composition, the lighting and everything else in a very short time. I like that. My photos may eventually become fiber work, but that is a whole other round of sifting and winnowing through the observations to find one that will then go on to speak to others as the layering and textures get added.
Last week I was drawing with my grandson. We were drawing a coffee cup and other household items. I tried to explain that he is not drawing a cup. He is not drawing the circle that he knows is the top of the cup. He is drawing the oval that he sees as the top of the cup. He is not drawing the hosta flower, he is drawing a unique shape (that happens to be a flower) and he is drawing the shape of the space between the edge of the flower and the edge of the vase!
I love seeing. I love drawing. What the eyes sees the hand can draw.
A symbiotic relationship
I was reading a book on Wayne Theibaud's work last night. And a quote really struck me.
"What sort of Medium fits your image. Is there a more legitimate medium for that?"
His question was directed to choosing a drawing media, and it is a legitimate one, but many of us have chosen a singular medium to work with, so I think there is slightly different question that should be asked:
Does your image NEED your medium?
Looking at Theibaud's Gumballs, it is evident the paint brought something a photo wouldn't; enhanced lighting, composition, graphic-ness, and juicy texture all taking them beyond reality to a unique statement and intent!
I take a lot of pictures. Maybe one in 100+ ever get made into art quilts. When I search for the photo that will be the basis for my next piece, it can not feel "complete" already! It has to NEED fabric (surface or layers) and stitching to be complete. It can not be an image that can stand alone without being pierced by my needle! I am not always successful at this, but that is my goal.
I love using fiber as a media. It has qualities that no other media does, and I try very hard to remember those when picking my imagery. FOR ME (and it might be different for others) The image chosen, photo or not, must not be complete without the addition of the fiber and stitch, and the fiber and stitch needs the image for them to be complete.
This is also why the National Portrait Gallery is one of my favorite museums. to see the same basic imagery (human being) expressed through so many media and artists, is a wonderful schooling on how art is not replication, but is something beyond that; it must be a symbiotic relationship between the image and the media.
Above is an example of my original photo (left) and my finished piece (right)
"Where the Sidewalk Starts"
If you are really into history, click here for blog posts prior to 2014 !