The drawing catches little of the actual situation. Lucy lies inside her kennel where it is dark. She lies on a black mat which makes the darkness more amorphous. The edge of her dark muzzle against the black mat is difficult to discern. Meanwhile, I draw upon a white sheet of paper. It could hardly be less amenable to the subject matter. And I use a blue ball point pen (wonderful tool) which if used to create dark passages requires many scribbles, and I am feeling fundamentally lazy today. This is abstraction and mindfulness. There’s a species of drawing possible — that seeks out the keenest realism — that nevertheless often fails to resemble its subject. Here it is. I recommend it highly.
I began again. The first drawing — sequence of heads — lacked room to put in her ears. Below her muzzle I played around with zigzag lines that pretend to treat some of the form of the mat she lies on — that black mat which fuses the edges of her nose into indistinct lineless contour, soft dark on dark.
Even in the deepest darks, one has a sense of the contours of a thing. I pretended that the tonality wasn’t even there. I just made lines around forms of the dog’s head. I followed curves, depressions, convexities, concavities, searched out the end of the nose, the flap of the lip, the edges of the ears, and so on. If you don’t know where a thing goes (this works temporarily for house cleaning too, so take note), just put it somewhere. You’ll figure it out later. Perfection is the enemy of the good. A useful catch phrase. Remember it.
Then Lucy turned over! A very relaxed dog! I found myself looking at a beautiful pose: the dog head upside down, underside of the chin, lovely honey colored spots on a white patch of an otherwise brown dog. I started drawing (not shown). Thirty seconds into it, she resumed the first pose again. Ah! Gone so fast. I decided to draw it — such as I might — from memory based on the not illustrated fast contour. The memory drawing is below — not sure if it’s at all legible. Doesn’t matter.
Sometimes you draw just to draw. Your hand describing the forms in concert with your active looking begins teaching you to understand the forms. It’s a relaxing and useful thing to do. It stills your mind. It hones your focus. Look at one thing at a time and react using the line as a form of biofeedback. It’s a form of meditation.
The notation “figure this out” visible at the top of the first drawing has nothing to do with the drawing. It’s the last words of notes I wrote myself regarding another topic — but it seemed like a good subtitle for the post so I let it remain.
“Figure this out.” Another good motto to tell yourself whenever you are looking at something and drawing. Figure it out. Wander around inside the visual idea. Get your bearings. Record what information you can. Leave the rest to float in airy thought until another day.