Into Paradox


I’ve continued working on this drawing.  None of the changes and additions that I’ve made to it are even noticable so far, and I haven’t taken a new photo yet.  But I post it again to illustrate what I notice about my thoughts as I continue drawing, trying to go deeper into the image.

One  thing I notice is how difficult it can be to look at the same things — the same still life, the same drawing — day after day and try to find the “new” in it — the present moment.  One’s thoughts can get so crowded with extraneous ideas.  I sit down to draw, but I might actually be thinking about something else.  It’s not that it marrs the drawing to think about other things, because it doesn’t necessarily do that.  It’s just that one might as well have the experience of seeing the things!  That’s what it’s for, isn’t it?

As with playing a musical instrument, once you have learned to play a piece you can reproduce it — almost mindlessly.  But, where then, has the music gone?  One wants not only to hear the music, but to feel it also — to be swept up inside it.  And the challenge in drawing is to be swept up in that.

There’s a paradox about art (perhaps true of all the arts?).  When you are very new to it, it presents lots of technical difficulties.  In painting, learning to draw or to mix color or, in piano learning to read music and to manage ambidextrous fingerings of lots of notes!

Eventually one gets increasingly comfortable with the difficulties — so much so that eventually they aren’t even difficult.  While a beginner, though, one has so much raw desire.  And after one has become more practiced, some of the desire has perhaps been unintentionally tamed.

One needs to find the desire again — even the difficulty needs to become a new discovery.  The uncertainty one fought against, the feeling of failure or the fear of it, the absent confidence — ah, they were friends if only one knew!

To not know how to draw is the most marvellous thing!  In not knowing, one is searching and striving.  Would that make all beginners masters? And are masters all washed up?  No, of course.  But the spirit of beginning is always something to strive toward no matter where one finds oneself in a continuum of “skill.”

Truly the beginner spirit is more realistic also.  To suppose that one already knows is inaccurate.  Reality is always bigger than we are.

I have been looking at my nearly “finished” drawing of flowers and finding a blank slate inside it.  So much about it is still tentative, I think.  Like the edges of the flowers in the vase where they juxtapose the flowers in the textile.  Where does one begin and the other end?  How does one put this into the drawing?  And space and dimension, how are they to be represented in this flat image?

I find that I am almost more interested in ways of thinking about appearances than strictly in depicting appearance. Sometimes my pictures have a strong life-likeness (you see the vase and the flowers, right?) and sometimes the features I find most intriguing lead to decisions that break the illusion.  If you discover a wonderful line, let’s say, and put emphasis on it, the line may bring the whole thing forward, making the picture flat again. And yet one discovers all kinds of beautiful things in the motif — percepts that are hard to resist.

There’s still so much that’s possible in a drawing like this one.  How much more so in the blank page.  The beginner mind is desirable — it is the continual possession of the newness of the moment.