drawing is a way of thinking

I draw all the time now.

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I have notebooks of every size. There’s always some kind of notebook in my purse, but if somehow my notebook has escaped from the purse, there’s always something else to draw on — a calendar or a scrap of paper.  I didn’t used to draw as much and as freely as I do now. I regret that lost time since I get so much enjoyment from drawing, and the only reason I didn’t pursue it constantly in the past was inhibition.

The sooner you rid yourself of that inhibition, the better.

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Notebooks are for thinking. The thoughts can be careful. Or they can be spur of the moment, stream of consciousness, blurry, furtive, haphazard, tentative, carefree, rapid, or exuberant.

Some of my favorite drawings are hidden inside notebooks.

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A lot of wonderful memories are hidden there too.

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Part and Whole

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It’s always seemed to me, when looking at the works of the old masters, that the parts of their paintings, as you get close to see them, are as enchanting as the entirety of their paintings and that the structure of the small details echoes the organization of the whole.  A certain logic governs throughout the image and that logic scales so that the same thought process is carried through pretty much wherever you look.

I want that quality in my paintings.  Moreover, thinking about it in this way gives me ideas about how to finish a painting.  After all, what if I take some portion and pretend that it’s now the whole image. It gives everything a new relationship to everything else.  Imagine a grid overlaying the whole painting and inside that grid are smaller paintings, each one needing attention.

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But this grid isn’t static.  It’s not as though I really drew a regular, mathematical grid over the painting, rather — imagine a grid that moves, that changes its scale depending upon where you’re looking.  And for all the shapes and forms contained in that grid at whatever juncture, there’s a new painting — one that needs to make sense in all its parts.  The part becomes a whole that has in its turn smaller parts.

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This is more of an ideal than a specific practice.  After all my problem is procrastination.  My imaginary grid turns one painting potentially into many miniature paintings.  That would seem to multiply the problem rather than solve it. So I don’t take my analogy literally.

But I do look at the painting as needing to make sense all over, in the large scale and in the small.

Adjacent To

Perhaps because paper was once in short supply, we note that the old masters drew on their rare pages with more joyful abandon than is typical of artists today.  And they were more thrifty.  Often a page of old master drawings will have several subjects on the same page, and they will not necessarily have anything to do with each other.  Often they are at right angles to each other.  And sometimes artists (like Ingres or Rubens) would even put more than the correct number of limbs on their figures — all presumably in the interest of deciding what the pose should be.  Four armed ladies?  Let’s not go there.  Save that for another occasion.

In our era of anything goes, it’s interesting that this conceit — this putting lots of things onto the same page hasn’t caught on as a revivified trend.  Heck, a lot of artists could do it and suppose that they were inventing something brand new (the ones who have not studied history, that is).

Besides things that happen to rent space on the same page are the colors that halo objects.  Everything in the world is colored and if you look really closely at all the color, it can drive you nuts!  There is so much of it to notice.  I didn’t peer too deeply in this drawing, but just enough to put some blue on top and green on the side of the marigold.

[Top of the post:  Studies of Plants by  Aletha Kuschan]