In search of looseness an artist can get some help from the materials.  An oil crayon is not an apt tool for detail since the nubby ends are difficult to press toward exact effects.  You can think that you’ll place a line “here” only to see its parallel form about a centimeter over from the place you had intended.  The grain of the paper can come to your assistance too since a very grainy paper is difficult to fill.  I used oil pastels and the grainy side of a pastel sheet for their value as loose-inducing media. 

A close up of the picture illustrates these qualities very readily.

Prior to the first nubby mark on the grainy sheet, there’s a more fundamental looseness to be found – found because this is something that involves a search rather than a purchase or merely a choice.  The looseness of the idea is a different thing from the looseness that comes from the materials, or even from the looseness that one derives from making a sketch rather than a drawing. 

You can make a gestural sketch where every mark is an approximation of the perception.  Most of us do something like this without even trying — of necessity because the precise idea seems so much more complex and unattainable. Using a thousand initial imprecisions gets an artist inches closer to some idea held tenously in the mind.  And this is a good beginning toward something that wants from the outset to be unbounded.

Yet there’s a thought behind the gesture, an idea of imprecision that makes an invention of seeing, which constitutes looseness in a more ideal form.  It involves an evocation of something rather than a description.  It parallels the thing but does not copy.  It rhymes with reality and is also a fact of experience in its own right.

That’s the kind of looseness one seeks.  It’s harder to come by.  Yet all these other kinds are paths toward it.  They are ways of exploring the notion of imprecision.  The  ideal looseness is a destination not just a process.  It has its own artistic demands for surely one can overshoot the mark.  It’s like the game in which “knowing when to fold them” is one strategy (among many) for winning.  And proves that even the completely amorphous bit of thought  needs edges at last.

2 thoughts on “Seeking a less precise line

  1. This is simply gorgeous, one of the prettiest oil crayon drawings I have ever seen. I honestly have not used that medium very often, perhaps I should give it a try!
    Thank you very much for sharing this!

  2. Oil pastel has long been a favorite tool for me, I think because it comes very close to operating like oil paint except without the fuss — that and its inherently loose quality. It almost forces the artist toward an evocative thought process. Thank you, whatsnormality, for the kind words.

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