These drawings have been eagerly awaiting the warm glow of the computer screen for months. I have been meaning to get them up here but it has not happened. Finally, the dog gets walked. From the Isle of Wight Zoo and streets to Brighton and Bath, these drawings have little in common other than they were produced for pure enjoyment and, in regards to the colour pieces, as a kind of controlled experiment. I am starting to tap into the English frame of mind and I am constantly being surprised. Like any people of any nation, complexities abound especially when you move beyond the surface. My students are also inspiring me. As much of an old dog as I am, (an old dog that needs several walks) there is always a desire to push my image making capabilities to even greater heights. The shape of that is being formed in my head as we speak and may represent a further departure from realist subjects. For now, these drawings have their walk on the cyber stage. Enjoy.
As a draftsperson working in the modern world (although ignoring a considerable chunk of its visual culture) I am regularly considering the significance of drawing in relation to other media and how drawing itself is being pushed and often re-imagined by artists. The debate has been clearer than the problems that have spawned the debate.
The debate is anchored in two deeply held beliefs. One, that drawing is a practice utilizing traditional materials and built on an observational craft typically grounded in the acquisition of representative drawing skills. Those skills based on well defined western ideals. From a foundation of traditional skills, the artist can then depart on one’s own and develop into an art maker with a singular voice.
The other belief is that drawing is indistinct from all other art making activity. Where the previous belief puts drawing at the center of the creative process, (or at least an independently important endeavor) they see drawing indistinguishable from installation art or painting and see it as fluid, above and perhaps beyond the limitations and restrictions of craft.
While this is an oversimplification of an important debate, it does show the inherent problems with both arguments. While the traditionalist may believe that the contemporary approach to drawing is resulting in half-born art, lacking in a fundamental understanding of form and therefore a mere exercise rather than a grounded piece of the art continuum, the contemporary artist sees that as an archaic limitation to a more expansive view of drawing as the delineation of just about anything and that this perspective expands the art and practice of “drawing for drawings sake”. Either way, both parties, stuck in their ideological camps, are failing to see the bigger problem. That problem is quality.
I could talk about quality and the guardians at the gate, (seemingly asleep at their post) but I am interested in something else. As we are getting warmed up in the twenty first century, I propose that drawing take on more important matters. For one, I believe it is important to look at drawing as a distinctive activity bringing a level of personal expression and communication that achieves what no other medium is capable of; an encapsulated autobiographical record (Berger) of the artists thoughts and intentions. Whether that is in the form of a line of bricks in a gallery installation or a pencil drawing on a napkin in a bar, we need to renew our love of a media that is, at its core, profoundly human and filled with the surprise and invention that result from the mysterious connection between mind and hand.
I say we re-dedicate ourselves to pushing our media and make the power of drawing self evident.
Drawings above are from recent trips to England and Spain.
Here are some summer drawings. They were all done either this summer or last in a variety of places. I can remember the time and place I did these drawings with such clarity that I could almost tell you what I was drinking and wearing when I did them. Beer and shorts would apply to many of them.
I wonder what the founders of this country would think if they saw us at the edge of a more perfect union measuring our success in flat screen TV’s and cars the size of small houses. The poor are fat and the rich are skinny. I think they’d be booking their flights to Paris tout de suite.
This is a collection of random drawings from the Westchester area and NYC. Looking at them brings back memories. Some are strange sightings from the corner of my eye as I am driving, others are close encounters. Either way it proves that when you are paying attention, it is a frightening world out there. New York in particular is always surprising. For me, the clash of the wealthy and the poor is always jarring. Those worlds don’t often mix but when they do they reveal the dirty little secret that the American Dream is a myth and that the poor have as much of a chance achieving their dreams as the rich do giving up their hard fought dominance. I am keeping this short because I have finally realized that drawing is enough.