Wednesday, 15 April 2015

More Experimental Drawing (2)

Still working from 'Expressive Drawing' (, the next next chapter in the book related to drawing textures.

The book pointed out that in drawing practice there is very little actual texture – you're not creating indentations in the surface of the paper, you're aiming to create the impression of texture, conjuring up an image of texture. Up until now I've always thought of texture as something that is descriptive – I observe what's in front of me and try to describe it through pencil, graphite and charcoal marks. What is new to me is the idea of metaphorical texture – arranging line and mark to describe the internal world of emotion/psyche/spirit. As the book says “It makes the invisible visible, the intangible tangible.”

As I worked through this, all sorts of bells started ringing in my head. Matisse and Klee both talk about delving below the surface into the invisible, of seeking to capture the emotion one feels about a subject rather than visible reality. Kandinsky advises that the artist must express what is peculiar to himself; his eyes should be directed to his own inner life and ears turned to the voice of 'internal necessity'. In his early abstract phase Diebenkorn would routinely reject and destroy paintings that owed too much to the visible world. I know my sketching tends to the 'observational' – I've always thought it is important to capture in a sketch what I see at the time. While this is clearly influenced by the mood I'm in at the time, I cannot pretend that my sketches are a full-blown emotional response to a subject.

So the idea of 'metaphorical texture' interests me greatly!

Let's unpick this a little. It seems to me that to create metaphorical texture one has to set down one's own idiosyncratic marks to describe how one feels about the essence of the subject one is drawing. Abstract artists like Klee created their own language of marks.  If we think that all subjects have hidden depths, we can also recognise that as we observe them we subconsciously bring our own experience into play – what we know or have learned about them, how we have experienced them at first hand, the extent to which we feel comfortable with them/feel unsettled by them/are anxious about them. And I suppose my aim should be to create a personal vocabulary to convey the hidden depths that I see.

Anyway, the exercises in the book were designed to get me thinking about different textures and drawing these.  Then I had to create textures that expressed different emotions. This was my attempt.
 Finally, I had to draw textures from observation without attempting to draw the reality of the objects. (I can see that this is a potential route to invisibility.)  I sat in the dining area with the table and the fire and drew this, a bit like a sampler.
I found it quite difficult, not drawing the objects.  From this last drawing I then had to compose a further drawing using only the textures I had captured.

I think this particular set of exercises sits at the heart of moving from realism to abstraction. I think I should return to it in the future.

In the meantime, to give my head a rest, I finished the day by drawing a Scots Pine that I could observe from my window. I've always been dissatisfied with my previous attempts to draw a Scots pine tree, but this time I tried to focus on the quality of the pine needles and the cloudy appearance of the foliage, thinking about the invisibility of the tree. I thought it turned out quite well and that it's a little different from my other sketches.  I thought I could detect some influence from my drawing session.  Maybe I'm beginning to let go from realism a little. What do you think?
 I will return to this again soon!

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