Art is an interpretation of things. Whenever we draw from life we confront one idea of reality — that highly acute (thanks to optometry) clear world with sharp edges and infinity of focus. Our eyes light upon different things and the mind blends them into one continuous idea of what’s “out there.”
In the arts of drawing and painting, by contrast, the world exists in two dimensions, and it has a finite size. Maybe it’s just 11 1/4 x 8/7/16 inches like Raphael’s Saint George and the Dragon at the National Gallery of Art in Washington. Maybe it’s 1.50 x 1.97 meters like Monet’s Nympheas at the Musee Marmottan.
However big or small it is, a picture represents a little world in itself — very much in finite and usually rectangular terms. So the artist always needs to be aware of the differences between the world as he sees it before his eyes, verses the world as it exists in pictorial imagination. Then too there’s the difference between the artist’s intention and the picture itself, which sometimes takes on a life of its own.
And the artist needs to be alive to the qualities of the medium used to make the picture as well. Not all media are equal to all tasks. Letting the picture travel to those ideas that the medium itself suggests (by virtue of its unique qualities) is one way that artists learn to invent ideas. Sometimes necessity is the mother of invention. Sometimes the medium limits what is possible and thereby creates the forms the picture will take.
Crayons are scribbly. They can produce continuous tones, too, of course. But line is their hallmark and their characteristic virtue. And nature too is composed of a great many lines. So the marriage of material to subject, where crayons are concerned, often leads to scribbles of one sort or another.
And one needn’t resist this. Because scribbles can actually be quite beautiful.
[Top of the post: a quick study after nature, Scrubs at the Arboretum, by Aletha Kuschan]