I’ve spent countless hours drawing and I still draw regularly. In the beginning, drawing was primarily a means of developing technique – grappling with how to translate whatever I was looking at into some kind of visual form – and, in the process, learning (mostly by trial and error!) the language of visual form. I’ve always tried to avoid becoming complacent with regards to technique and I still spend time doing myriad exercises in an effort to continue my technical development. These days, though, a lot of my drawing time is more geared toward searching for images. The process involves shutting down my conscious thinking and letting my subconscious and intuition direct my choices. Because the process involves a lot of risk taking and letting go of control of the final outcome, the drawings oftentimes are not successful. But that’s just part of the process, and the payoff when I do hit on something unique and interesting is well worth it. Any drawings that I think have even a modicum of potential to someday become images for my art get saved. My studio is littered with them, some taped on the walls and others in piles on just about every available surface.
When I was in college, I did a series of ink wash drawings of still-life subjects for my drawing class. When my teacher saw them, she said my technique was okay but she handed them back to me and said, “Go make compositions with them.” She was right, of course (as she always was!); I had done a nice job of rendering the objects but I hadn’t thought about the relationship between the objects and the the frame of the drawing. So I took the drawings, laid them on a table, and using strips of paper to cover up the sides of the drawings, found interesting compositions and then cropped the drawings accordingly. This turned out to be a wonderful exercise and I still do it all the time. Occasionally, I’ll take one of my drawings, which may have been lying around the studio for years, and, using strips of black paper, experiment with different framing/cropping options in hopes of finding an image. Sometimes all I need do is crop a small bit off one edge and the composition will work. Other times, I end up discovering an image in a very small section of the original drawing.
The composition for this painting came from a small cross-section of a drawing that had been hanging on the studio wall for about four years. What I find interesting is that the subject of the original drawing (a grain silo and a water tower) isn’t even in this image.
I’m quite pleased with this. In any creative endeavor, it’s important to learn to trust your intuition and instincts and to allow yourself opportunities to let go of control and just experiment and explore. You may spend a lot of time feeling like your pressing in vain against a brick wall, but if you just accept that as part of the process, eventually you’ll bring something wonderful to the surface – something that you never could have come up with via conventional thinking.
I am a full time artist, originally from Massachusetts, currently living in northern Maine. I work primarily in oils and pastel, and occasionally watercolor. I offer instruction in drawing and painting at my studio, which is in an old renovated potato barn. Please feel free to view samples of my work (You can see a larger version of each picture if you click on it.) and leave a comment if you are so inclined. Be sure to click the "Older Posts" button at the bottom to see more work. I don't always have time to respond to comments, but if you wish to correspond with me, you can e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org