Here is the same vase of flowers of my many nocturnal and diurnal repetitions, drawn larger this time, 18 x 24 inches, in pencil. Each time I draw this motif I notice something different about it, and by the motif I refer to the entire scene. I have spent so much attention on the flowers — because in a picture with a vase of flowers you almost have to — and yet I’m not sure if it isn’t really the cloth behind the vase, the patterns on the cloth and the two other objects, the creamer and the rice bowl that interest me more than the flowers.
Indeed, I think what interests me most when I look at the still life itself is some quality about the whole, particularly the way light crosses all the objects. When you redraw something over and over, you are in a process of discovering what it is. I am not really interested in these objects as much as I am intrigued by gravity weighing down the cloth and light moving through the space. And I haven’t captured either of those qualities yet. So though I’ve drawn it a lot, its substance has still eluded me.
“Il faut refaire la meme choses dix fois cents fois,” as Degas said: You must redraw the same thing ten times, a hundred times. Or as a Spanish friend translates for me, “Necesitas re-dibujar la misma cosa diez veces, cien veces.” Italian anyone?