The course I am attending at the Royal Drawing School in London is inspiring me each week with light-bulb moments. We were asked to draw with our left hand without looking at the paper and without taking the charcoal off the page. Sounds a bit gimmicky, but it produced surprising results and felt very freeing.
We were allowed to look at the end and to make one image on top of the scrawls. Next we had to look intently at the model then turn our backs away and draw from memory. That was interesting in that we were told to trust our memory when drawing rapidly moving figures. Once a memory of the exact shape of the models arms, legs etc. was embedded in our minds through one careful observational drawing, all we needed to observe as the model moved, was the relative positions of each part and then fill in the detail from memory. I realise I have been slavishly believing that pure observation is the key to drawing but it’s not the whole story. Drawing movement is difficult but learning various techniques has helped and almost wiped out my ability to draw a static pose.
At my local life class I found it hard to draw poses which lasted more than 10 minutes. I found movement and speed of recording the rapid poses much easier.
The London course introduced me to , the drawings of Victor Passmore, Peter Lanyon, Medley and Hilton. These artists were contemporaies and their drawings were concerned with the extremes of both figuration and abstraction ‘Without these two poles – the idea,implacable, thorny, remote and the medium, fleshy, lecherous and lurid – and without the battle between them and the final sinking of each sovereignty in a common wholeness, there can be no art’ These words were written by Hilton and quoted in a catalogue to describe Medley’s work.
I think this gets close to describing the general direction in which I am currently heading. My long battle to place my work within a framework of either abstract or figurative seems less important than the concern to let an image express something more relevant. I used to worry about choosing a subject but now that too seems irrelevant. All art is basically about life and the subjects just evolve. I used to propose that my work was centred on landscape but increasingly I find myself painting the human figure, within the landscape. Perhaps that sounds boring but it’s really all there is. Art is a mirror held up to reflect, not record life. We exist in space….end of story.