Several times already I have drawn the objects that are going to appear in “the big painting” of previous posts. I draw and redraw the objects. Drawing them is like solving an enjoyable puzzle. Each iteration reveals different facets of the objects. Redrawing them is like rehearsing a part in a drama. Soon when the time comes to put them actually into the painting, they will already seem very familiar in their shapes and forms.
I have a little table where the objects are stationed that simulates the expansive table portrayed in the painting. I shift them around into slightly differing relationships trying to find the one pattern that connects them well to each other.
These aren’t permanent drawings. They are instead big sketches. Art ephemera. The one above is on a 24 x 18 inch sheet. But they help me find the solutions I need.
Drawing at the National Gallery is always enjoyable, especially when you’re drawing with a friend. This time I made a drawing after Rodin’s “Bust of a Young Girl.” It’s very relaxing after working with so much focus on the Big Painting studies to be looking at and drawing something that’s not a flower — much as I love drawing flowers ….
Here’s a link to the Rodin:
At odd moments I draw some of the flowers with pencil. I like to think about things in terms of line. I like lines. Putting contours around shapes, seeing the shapes in relation to the other shapes, one flower’s location relative to another, is how I think about them. Somehow I feel like drawing must strive for accuracy, accuracy of flower positions, as though they are planets in a star system of flowers.
It honestly doesn’t make any difference. But I feel obligated to seek out their true positions as closely as I can manage. The bouquet will look different from its first indications at long last once they enter the final painting. Because stuff happens. Everything changes. My brain shifts things around. Or the flowers themselves shift around. Or something. However, the impulse to get this “accuracy” is a force I heed.
I respect the impulse but I make no claims for the outcome. Outcomes change. Flower painting is a sneaky business.
Just now I found this whimsical drawing that I made, goodness knows when. It’s a quick and spare copy of Bonnard’s huge and famous L’atelier au mimosa. I saw the actual painting in the Phillips Collection exhibit on Bonnard in 2002 though I made this drawing from a book.
Bonnard’s painting is 50 x 50 inches square. Seeing this little sketch I think about large spans of very bright — dizzyingly bright — color! In truth all of reality is an amazing field of light that we see with our eyes each day.
I will make many such little drawings while I work on my painting of flowers. I posted an earlier one already. Such drawings are made after the manner of a person muttering to herself; they are my haphazard thoughts made in idle moments. When I take a break and relax in my chair — or while I talk on the phone — I begin remembering my painting. These sketches are my memories.
These pen gestures each reveal subtle differences in feeling about what the picture is “supposed” to be — what I think it is — in the effervescent moment.
The precise quality that renders the sketch the highest expression of the idea is not the suppression of details, but their subordination to the great sweeping lines that come before everything else in making the impression. The greatest difficulty therefore, when it comes to tackling the picture, is this subordination of details which, nevertheless, make up the composition and are the very warp and weft of the picture itself. 23 April 1854 [trans. Lucy Norton]
Ce qui fait precisement de ce croquis l’expression par excellence de l’idee , c’est, non pas la suppression des details, mais leur complete subordination aux grand traits qui doivent saisir avant tout. La plus grande difficulte consiste donc a retrouner dans le tableau a cet effacement des details, lesquels pourtant sont la composition , la trame meme du tableau…..
Paris 23 avril, 1854
Now, I won’t make you guess who said this! It was Eugène Delacroix, the great 19th century French painter.