Friday, November 7, 2008

Developing a Drawing Practice

"Untitled", John Wood,1983, solvent and lacquer on paper.

I've become increasingly interested in drawing. Actually I've felt almost compelled to do more drawing.

I spent Wednesday and Thursday afternoons visiting an exhibition that is one of three regional venues featuring a 50 year retrospective of the work of photographer and printmaker John Wood, 86, who spent 35 years as an art professor at Alfred University. What I most admire, appreciate and find reassuring in his work is that he combines a variety of mediums together on his surfaces such as drawing, photography and printmaking.

A quote by Wood next to one work in the exhibition made a strong impression on me: "I'm continually in a state of drawing and no day goes by that I don't draw something. Mark making, calligraphy, the kinetic movement of the hand are very important to me, probably more important than anything else."

I feel a personal connection to this idea of the movement of the hand and almost at times feel a desire to draw in the air. Large, gestural movements tracing the lines that I see in my mind.
Although I feel a pull towards drawing, I seem to have been unable to sustain a drawing practice. To help me begin to draw regularly, I've been meeting with a group of five other beginning drawers once a week at my studio. My friend Paloma has been guiding us through the basics.

Each Friday when we meet, the class members bring in an assortment of whimsical and strange items that Paloma arranges into different still lifes. We do quick warm ups with 60 second, 30 second and even 10 second sketches, then each week learn different drawing techniques and spend longer periods of time attempting to see the relationships of the shapes and sizes and translate three dimension objects to two-dimensional images.

Paloma usually arrives several hours before each class to work on her own drawings. They're quite large and my studio has enough space to accommodate them. The sketch of the elderly man above is the beginning of a new series that Paloma is starting.

This Friday morning Paloma painted over the drawing with white gesso. She is experimenting with joining sheets of rice paper for this work. I particularly like seeing the lines where the papers have been glued together. Eventually she will adhere this finer paper to a stronger, more durable ground, but for now she will work on it in sections. She currently envisions creating a great deal of space around the figure.

While Paloma worked on her painting, I worked on my latest efforts, still attempting to flesh out and resolve the ideas I have for several new pieces. My sampling processes take time, the results are sometimes mixed, but at least one piece is moving forward and may hopefully soon reach a point where it feels resolved and strong.

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