Without a Map

Reading other art blogs, I came upon this interesting comment that I would say captures the exact opposite of the experience I want from my own drawing.  Someone says, “Watching great artists at work can be so instructive, especially if they follow a general process of work. …[An artist featured] does exactly that; she draws in a way that organizes the development of her figure drawing and while observing I am not lost trying to understand what is right before my eyes.”

People want different things from art, and actually I want to get lost.  “Following a general process” has never appealed to me, though I don’t begrudge anyone else seeking predictability or comfort.  But me, I want to examine my own thoughts — not in a narcissistic way, but instead in the spirit of a natural philosopher.  My brain is the only outlet to Nature I have. Moreover, I didn’t invent myself.  So I say that my exploration of my sensibilities is not even self-involved.  To the contrary, I’m just gazing upon the world, and pondering what I see and the order in which thoughts pass like birds or like clouds through the interior of my head.

When you watch sensation do you know what you’ll find?  It’s more akin to meteorology.  I record the blips on the screen.  That I notice them willy nilly is both the luck and the fascination. Of course you make plenty of mistakes following your whim, but they are often wonderful mistakes.

In a most successful drawing, neither you nor I would have any idea how the lines jumped into the paper.  And that is all the fun and the wonder of it.  Get there by dint of hard work, but enjoy every moment of mental weather that such work can bring.

Violin Lesson

Sitting in the car waiting during the violin lesson, I drew a fast sketch of koi for a painting I’m working on back at my studio.  The June heat made the wax pencils respond more smoothly and knowing I had to jump out of the car in a few moments to fetch my kid quickened the pace of my drawing.

A drawing like this isn’t about what the drawing looks like, it’s more about looking at the ideas and thinking idly (if quickly) about them.  And yet, I love scribbles.  And sometimes it happens that later on, looking at a little sketch like this will bring back to memory the sensation of the whole moment.