Dec 202010

Featured in Nova magazine Oct 09

We need to reclaim our natural power!

You walk into the supermarket, what do you see?  …. walls of monoculture, junk food outlets, fashion franchise, electronic goods and glossy magazines, masses of mind-numbing distraction, an avalanche of consumer goods.  It’s become a kind of ‘consumer madness’, everything is manufactured and mass-produced – if you can’t buy it over the counter then it doesn’t exist!  We don’t do anything much ourselves anymore, it’s all done for us and it all comes in little packets.  The press button culture.  Our ‘hands on’ creativity, our ingenuity and skills have always been akin to our ability as a culture to survive.  Increasingly, those skills have been taken away from us, ignored or removed altogether, in the same way as native languages disappeared or were wiped out in many countries by western occupation.  Our ability to be creatively involved in our lives has been tossed out the door and made redundant.  Quite simply, as a culture, we have moved a long way from where it all began, from our roots in primordial nature.

nature – the provider

The astonishing thing about nature is not only it’s power to startle and amaze, to renew, to reinvent and restore but it’s remarkable and seemingly unlimited power to provide and give without measure, it’s amazing providence!

It is from within this state of grace, this infinite complexity, that new species and their blueprints, including ours, have emerged.  And there seems to be an unavoidable wisdom in this, in that things (species, flora, fauna, and life forms) didn’t just come out of thin air but came out of a deep process of variance and selection over thousands of years from complex and multiple cultures.  It could be said that nature is all about exploration, and our ability to choose and adapt is our most fundamental tool; that creativity is our natural habitat, a ‘magic broom cupboard’ in which springtime is everlasting and perennial, a wonderland of possibility.

This is the very stuff of humans / the essence of who we are. We actually need those subtle states of difference; we actually need that discordance at times just so we know what our choices are. We are by nature discordant, spontaneous yet vulnerable and complex at the same time.  It is who we are, it is how we evolve, how we move forward, just as new species are announced in nature, through the give and take of extraordinary chaos.

By fully understanding and being prepared to look at who we are, we evolve and learn.  That is, we need that ongoing personal dialogue as a sounding board to make choices about our lives.  Life is jazzy, open-ended and inconclusive and doesn’t run along straight lines or have predictable outcomes.  These are fundamental issues.  Just as variation in nature ensures the survival of species, so our natural sense of creativity is our most valuable asset.

space and choice

We now live in the most compressed culture in the history of the world.  Space is a luxury and it comes at a premium. There is less and less room for deviation or error but more than ever we need that space to chart our experience and position ourselves in the world.  There is less and less permission given to be ourselves and more and more pressure to comply.

Debussy said ‘music is the space between the notes’.

What is the impact?  There seems to be a set of questions that we all share… the sort of questions we are faced with each waking day.  These are the questions that are unavoidable yet completely relevant.  That is, issues of pain, alienation, disempowerment, anger, guilt….. the struggle for self recognition and authenticity, the ongoing search for fulfillment and peace of mind….. all questions that are so far from our original state of being or innocence.  These are absolutely basic issues, the real currency of our lives.  But they are, sadly, often experienced alone and without the knowledge or support of those around us.  They even operate us without our full consent because most of us are to a large extent in denial of these issues.  It mostly gets thrown in the too hard basket.  Life is too busy. ‘I’ll sort it later’.  ‘Not today’.  ‘It’s too difficult’ etc.  But how it impacts us and shapes our lives is often not acknowledged or fully recognised.

So we struggle…. and up go the anxiety levels, up goes the stress and up goes the cost of it all, emotionally and physically.  It’s through looking at these ‘internal panoramas’ that we get to see our real territory…. who we actually are, not who we’ve been told we should be and what is expected of us.  There are no ‘shoulds’ in the phenomena of natural experience.  The ‘shoulds’ are all man-made.  Nature is a mysterious and astounding display of charity.  It runs the way it runs, whimsically and without limit. Not how we think it ‘should’.  It is full of anomaly, variation and unexpected difference, in the same way as water runs in broken rhythms along a stream or the way each wave breaks differently upon the shore or how each flame upon rising flame makes the enchanting and ever changing shape of a fire.  It is sublime and elemental. Just as each flower opens in spring according to it’s own natural rhythm, you can neither force people nor anything in nature. Practice rituals of creativity that help you discover who you are, that nurture and look after you.

Each of us is differently written.  Our most intimate moments reveal this.   Like those flashes of insight that happen when all else is stripped away.  That state of inspired innocence within ourselves that the pressure of culture often obstructs.  And yet this very question of recognition of who we are, of our ‘primary self’, is at the heart of our quest for happiness.

All the fundamental issues that arise out of this conflict between who we are and the culture that we live in bring up, again and again, those inescapable issues of angst and shame, identity and visibility, even sanity and madness.   Without acknowledging this, we deny ourselves the full measure of our possibilities and our most brilliant moments.

The question of who we are and the expectations of the culture in which we live are mostly never separated or resolved.  If we do not recognise this or somehow lose sight of this, then our choices are either diminished or significantly lessened.  We become the involuntary servants of the host culture.  In the present case, here in the West, naked consumerism has evolved into what could only now be described as ‘disaster capitalism’.

So this question of choice becomes really important, even critical not only to our emotional survival but to our very physical existence. Those questions – of empowerment, shame, authenticity, love and survival etc. – come up inexorably and repeatedly.  If we don’t acknowledge this or affirm that we have the power to make changes, not only to ourselves but also to the culture in which we live, then we jeopardise not only our future but our own unlimited and most beautiful possibilities.

In the history of literature, art and music it is this very issue of variance and particularly individual variance that has been at the heart of the really great movements.  It has identified and named the visionaries and major figures in those histories.  There never has been fixed ground.  What has been classical or representative and authentic about each culture has been these very differences.  And what was the truth in those particular historical moments is what has stood the test of time.  We all possess an essential truth. The challenge is to find the courage to go on that quest for our own personal truth.

To quote Goethe ‘whatever you can do, or dream you can…. begin it.  Boldness has genius, power and magic in it.’

Like life itself, it’s all about change.  And to not recognise this is somehow naive.  So our ability to make choices and decisions and to recognise the existence of our multiple-sided nature is essential for looking at and resolving our experience.  It’s empowerment at it’s most fundamental level.  We need to completely self explore our experience so that we can keep moving, turn things around, make changes in our lives if we are to start to heal.  We need to seek out the manuscript of our birth map so that we can navigate our way through the world.

In our present world, we are faced with dilemma at every turn.  If we are locked in or closed down, whether that is emotional lockdown or cultural lockdown, it doesn’t matter, it’s still the same thing.  If you are being operated or robbed of your independence in whatever way, then it does not serve you.  If your hands are not your hands – and in this press-button, digitalised age of the ready-made and the pre-packaged, so many of us have had our hands taken from us – then this is disempowerment and our natural state of being and our creativity is being dismantled.  If our eyes are not our eyes but those of the advertising world, the moguls of the mainstream media, then we are being manipulated and constructed into a geometry that has little to do with our original blueprint.  It’s cultural disturbance.

We need to pay homage to our original being and find our natural compass.  Even the simplest forest animal knows where home is.

Wallabies at Bushranger Bay, Mornington Peninsula, Victoria

surrender and admission

By admitting our vulnerabilities, by returning to our original state of innocence, our seeing begins and it is in this state of surrender that our stories begin.  We can maybe start to get clear, to make a claim on reality, attempt some kind of restoration or resolution and touch upon our real identity.  Everybody looking for their signature, everyone looking for their words, everyone looking for ‘their writing’.

Go to Uluru, go to Daintree, go to the Otway ranges, or even go down to the phone box on the corner and what do you see?  You see people’s names and initials scratched into rock face, into metal, onto tree trunk, people everywhere searching for identity, wanting to put their name to experience, wanting to document that experience, even in the fractured and dark language of disaffected youth, namely graffiti and ‘tag’ etc.  But mainstream culture constantly repossesses and whitewashes.  The great irony, the great paradox of our times…..  seemingly so much on the shelves and so many things advertised for sale and yet, on a personal level, so much emptiness, so little choice, so little real nourishment and such lack of opportunity.   So much hunger in terms of our real deep down needs.

So it would seem imperative if we want to maintain a meaningful culture that we need to develop our creativity as a conscious tool to maintain our social fabric and resonance.  Because the mainstream culture is increasingly reducing those options and locking people into recorded voices, monitored menus and virtual narratives.  So what is more important than ever is that we recognise not only our right to individual sanctity but that we become more aware of the role of difference and diversity in the maintenance of our health and wellbeing.

If we repress or deny those dilemmas and deep seated primal experiences that precipitate crises and substitute it with junk food, dvd’s, shopping, money, cars, drugs, daytime tv, fashion ‘addiction’ or whatever, then we’ll never develop the power to affirm or find the courage to act and see our way clear of that kind of subtle and yet immensely destructive stuff that prevents us from moving forward and really expressing ourselves.  Like experiencing the simple joy of just having an ‘empty moment,’ like a single white cloud in a big blue sky.

Whether one experiences this ‘state of admission’ through meditation, dance, music, drawing, song or simply walking in the woods; or achieves it through a flood of tears, or going mad or through absurd laughter or sitting in the desert, doesn’t really matter; because until you actually surrender and admit 100% your state of being, who you are and where you’re at, you’ll never have the kind of freedom that gives you the empowerment of independent choice.

To actively meditate upon all of who and what you are, means to actively and intelligently witness and express, in an all encompassing way, those things which you are presently inhabited by.  And with courage and robust intention to go forth, without fear or favour, to embrace the devil and go sit down with your angels and demons and go say your name and yell it out loud……. indeed, make your mark!

Copyright Ron Curran  October 2009

Dec 202010

Article published in Living Now Magazine, December 2008

The primary theme of this article is really about the untapped potential, the creative power and the incredible diversity of language inherent in the average person. I approach this in the context of drawing. It’s that issue of individual difference (of experience) that often never gets a look in. Most people’s ‘mark-making’, their ‘real’ language, in fact their actual creative being often lies submerged in their subconscious, like a brilliant coral reef, never visited or seen. Within the dynamic drawing forum, I assist people to make that dive.

by Anne Kristen

Have you ever wanted to draw but somehow never had the confidence?
Have you ever been told that you were ‘hopeless at drawing’ or ‘didn’t have the ability’, that you were ‘untalented’, that what you drew was ‘laughable’ or that you couldn’t get it ‘in perspective’ or the best you could do was ‘stick figures’. Does this ring any bells with you?

Imagine now a situation where you are given the opportunity, in a non-hierarchical setting, to explore your visual territory and to embrace your identity in a really meaningful way where there are no hoops you’ve got to jump through, where you are welcome exactly as you are…… as a legitimate, unique and phenomenal soul.

Dynamic drawing setting gives you exactly that permission. You self recognise…… you begin to remember who you were (when the dream first started). The ‘head noise’ ends and suddenly something picks you up and moves you forwards. What you thought was in front of you is now suddenly behind you. Something is set in motion. You are in a state of abandonment. You have entered a state of grace.

Most people unfortunately have been given the ‘flat earth’ version of drawing and have never really been informed about what it really means to draw….. so the vast stellar poetry of the soul is oft never lit, nor the whale ever seen. And that is sad because so much brilliant possibility remains untapped. The rock poet Patti Smith (OK) said ‘art will be compulsive or art will not be at all’.

In a sense, drawing has been hijacked by what could only be loosely called the ‘mainstream’ (the academy, advertising, commerce / gallery elitism etc.) In a world that is becoming increasingly ‘named and samed’, there is an increasing devaluation of the individual. Art, just like farming (monoculture), is increasingly in the hands of investors, dealers and multi nationals. There is little tolerance of art on a one to one basis and yet now there is a greater need than ever for individual acceptance and understanding.

What this creates is a huge schism between that broad mass of people and those sitting at the top of the heap ie. the ‘name artists’, the ‘gallery stable’ etc., in the face of which most people become bewildered and overwhelmed. But the tragedy is most people never even question this because most of us have been banged over the head by this since the year dot. But this is a far cry from the awesome mysteries that really powerful work has historically possessed. The real tragedy is just how many people are then thrown into the ‘I’m not an artist’ basket. Well, LET ME SAY RIGHT NOW…….. THIS IS NOT TRUE!

There are masses of people out there with deep, original, undeveloped and quite unique sensitivities. I’ve witnessed this over and over again during my years of facilitation. Given half a chance, most people can produce really exceptional work. Ironically, it is this issue of originality – this striking issue of difference – that has distinguished the ordinary in art from the extraordinary. It is from this very base (the exotic or unusual) that really great art has emerged, not from some academic mould.


omehow, the idea of illustration has been mistaken for all that drawing is!
This sense of departure of ‘returning home’ to your original identity, to ‘who you really are’, rather than being told how you should draw, is crucial to developing a healthy creativity.

You can’t ignore the extra brilliant possibilities of the so called ‘ordinary’ person…. nobody is boring! Within every person sleeps an angel waiting to be awoken. The march of the ordinary soul into the great roaring silence can be witnessed when ordinary people are given a voice and those voices together make a choir.

Each individual has a story to tell. It is extraordinary individuals that make up the history of art. People’s unexpected abilities and hidden potential and what they have to offer continue to astound and surprise me. Drawing is a visual yoga as much as breathing is life. To draw fully, you need to breathe deeply and consciously.

by Silvana Gorgiev

It is a tragedy to see how many people have been constructed, creatively robbed, shamed, isolated or fractured by the mainstream media, that is the academic version of drawing, because drawing when you distill the word, pure drawing – as we have discovered – dwells, lives and breathes within the ‘art of difference’. Different individuals putting their hand up and saying ‘this is how it is for me, this is the way I translate my experience, these are my stories. These are the kind of claims I make on reality. These are the kind of images and narratives that I need to do to tell you what my movie is about’….. no shame.

So when you are drawing you are having returned to you / given back literally what is yours and putting your signature to it. You are collecting what belongs to you. So, for someone to frown upon, mock or somehow close down or devalue you for that, is really destructive because it is from this kind of diverse base that really strong work develops. It is one of the great ironies of art history (and it has happened repeatedly) that ground-breaking work has been initially howled down, laughed at or savaged by the status quo because people at the time could not comprehend the new and classical originality of the language.

So the big issue then becomes how do you connect with what’s yours (your core realities) ……. and I like to use this word, your ‘primary’ self? When so much of the art myth floats on an illusory cloud of glamour and production slickness, it means that you need to consciously break through this to get your feet on the ground.
And this is the hardest (and most dangerous) time for most people because it means staying with it when it seems everything you’ve ever been led to believe in or been taught seems to be crashing down around you. Those seemingly unquestionable things about quality and success are under radical challenge. It’s also the time when what you thought was ‘bad drawing’ suddenly starts to look like good drawing. It’s also the time when the voices in your head, the ‘chatter’ starts up about ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ and what’s the good and the bad way, what’s weird and what’s normal, real or abstract…. it can be a time when you feel your whole world is turning upside down……. because it most often is!

It’s a ‘big ask’ but if you’re going to ‘move on through’, it’s the only way…… and this is the hardest time because if you want to develop your practice, then you’ve got to stick with it and have a little faith because this is an enormous psychological battle, as it brings up all sorts of deep-seated stuff about your identity and beliefs. Your whole idea of what you perceive as visual security or real is under substantial challenge. In this particular way, it is comparable to meditation.

But this is when the realisations are being made…..because what you’re dealing with in pure drawing are essentially questions of philosophy (not how well you can draw the nose on a horse’s face). At some point, it is absolutely necessary to break from that mythical fable or tradition about what ‘art’ is and start to develop a revamped, healthier and more vibrant practice (eg. eggs get broken when you start to cook). But recognising this division within yourself, for most people, is really hard because traditional pressure (eg. through the school system, books on how to draw, gallery elitism) is just so extreme and continues throughout most people’s lives. Another example would be say the way in which the magical innocence and wisdom of children’s art is dismissed, brushed aside and subsumed by an avalanche of artificial and manufactured technique.

So when you start to make a break and learn to stand on your own two feet creatively, it generally signals confusion and upheaval……… when the ‘primary self’ goes into battle with ‘constructed self’. But it is the only way. The Mexican writer Carlos Castaneda called this ‘the last battle on earth’…… in his book ‘The Tales of Power’ …… that is the battle for the reclamation of one’s own soul. Homer talks about this in ‘The Iliad’, Dante also talks about it in ‘The Inferno’ and the French poet, Arthur Rimbaud, describes it in his famous poem ‘A Season in Hell’. Robert Johnson, the Blues singer, famously talked about it as ‘meeting the devil at the crossroads’. It’s nothing new. It’s a classical part of human experience, the epic search for your identity / your being. You are not alone.

All the major artists through time, worth their salt, have been through it (including musicians, writers, poets, prophets, visionaries etc). It’s called ‘self actualisation’ through work because if you follow the creative principle right through to its logical conclusion, then that’s what you’ve actually got, this further and further process of distillation and self realisation. ‘YOU ARE THE ONE THAT YOU ARE LOOKING FOR’……. in the end it’s absurdly simple……. but so much energy is wasted on trying to be ‘acceptable’, when in the end the real power lies in HAVING THE COURAGE TO LET GO.

So, recognising this ‘crossroads’ is essentially what the dynamic drawing forum is all about. It is a quest for freedom and self recognition. Without a connective dialogue or a robust visual debate, how can someone’s language freely move or begin even to be seen. Without experimentation and a sense of wonder, how? Without an acute sense of vitality and enquiry, how? Without intuitive input, then how much of ‘you’ is really yours? What kind of drawing is it if it doesn’t have risk, sacrifice and even destruction…… you need to ask yourself what drawing actually means? You need at some point to surrender yourself and to actually witness that surrender. You need to make contact with who you are.

It just keeps coming back to that issue of the ‘crossroads’ when you realise drawing is not something external but something that is overwhelmingly internal, that radically engages you at all levels, almost ‘physically’. It is meditative, it requires your trust and the engagement of your best instincts……… you can’t control drawing. It is, in a sense, even delinquent in the way it searches out structures. You are informed ‘blindly’ or intuitively, that is where the big decisions are being made and without warning. It is phenomenal, raw and sophisticated all at the same time. You simply can’t control it intellectually or by some mythical book of rules. It will walk right over you. Your best, wisest and most inspired decisions are ‘visceral’ (energetic)…… that is, at a deeper level these events are bouncing straight off your nervous system. You are dealing with something purely intimate and it is happening at a rate of knots. It is you who is holding the mirror and you who needs to be found.

In drawing there is no separation of interest. It is intelligent to develop good working strategy, to understand what it means to put marks on paper, to understand the value in what appears to be ‘chaos’. It would be silly not to. To understand how ‘ugly’ can suddenly become ‘beautiful’. Drawing is not like selling steak knives. It is an investigation into the mystery of the world.

Buddha did not sit under the Bodhi tree and gain enlightenment in five minutes. So with drawing, it is a meditation that takes time and a ruthless process of self-examination. You can’t borrow someone else’s eyes; you’ve got to find your own reality / realities. It is through these doors you enter the sacred state of cosmogony, that state of inspiration.

Copyright Ron Curran Dec 2008

Dec 202010

This is a precis that looks at the dynamic drawing process at a simple and accessible, grass roots level.

‘The true work of art is one which the seventh wave of genius
throws upon the beach and which the undertow of time cannot drag back.’ Cyril Connolly

There is a popular misconception / myth as to what drawing is about……… what makes for good drawing.

Right from an early age, most of us are given a recipe (like eggs and flour) as to what drawing is. ‘These are the things you need to do to be an artist. These are the job criteria.’

You have to ‘get it right’….. ‘you need to get it perfect’….. ‘it has to be life-like’….. ‘it’s got to look realistic, look like the subject’….. so you need to learn to draw ‘properly’….. learn perspective etc. etc.

We are hit over the head with this from the year dot. But in the face of the history of art, this is simply not true. It’s been more about people doing quite different things, quite radically different things. It’s been a history of challenge. Of people consciously questioning and challenging the status quo, the so-called ‘rules’ (of perception) and returning their experience back to themselves / to a more intimate viewpoint….

… and this ‘intimacy’ (this personal way of seeing), when taken far enough, can be striking, can have spectacular results. It’s that simple seed of originality, given nurture and opportunity, that has been the thing that root and branch, has produced the great art.

But most people feel precluded or somehow culturally excluded because they are repeatedly told that drawing is all about those who have talent, those with dazzling technical skills, those who are born with ability, the elite few etc. etc.

This is a completely destructive myth which, unfortunately, most people have been continually subjected to and have been forced to swallow, hammer and tong, most of their lives. So it is therefore forgivable (and understandable) that most people fall into believing this, when you consider it is the only version of ‘how to draw’ that most people have ever been exposed to. They have had it rammed down their throats all their lives!

But it is essentially the ‘commercial illustration’ version of drawing, the illustrative ‘pictorial’ version that has very little to do with ‘free expression’.

‘There is no must in art, because art is free.’ Wassily Kandinsky

This ‘constructed’ version of drawing is more about employment, social credo, commercial production and craft than it is about real or pure drawing.

Recognising this one massive and critical distinction is probably the single most relevant point in gaining an understanding of what drawing is really about. Until this is grasped, you are literally not even ‘on the bus’.

From the very start the ‘act of drawing’, i.e. of drawing in a pure and expanded sense, is virtually all about ‘unlearning’ or ‘undoing’ this very entrenched and destructive myth. To be victim to this ‘fundamentalist’ version of drawing is about as akin to someone being held prisoner by a sect. So, in a way, real or pure drawing is a kind of ‘cult-bust’. To break people out of that way of thinking. To return people back to their original creativity.

‘Taking a new step, uttering a new word is what people fear most.’ Fyodor Dostoyevsky

To draw means it is imperative to return to your own structures, your own inherent perspectives, to discover your own stories, to regain your own power. You can’t just borrow that off someone, repeat or imitate someone else. You need to return what you experience back to it’s original owner, namely you!

What you experience is unique, it’s your god given right and that is ultimately what you must pursue.

‘Art will be compulsive, or art will not be at all.’ Patti Smith

So risk, passion….. sacrifice, courage and commitment are all part of ‘art stuff’….. so is ruthless self-examination and total abandonment. This is all part of the adventure, it is where drawing really begins.

It means having to make a conscious break from the cosy, ‘copy book’ way of thinking and drawing and to be willing to step out of your comfort zone….. in fact, to ‘renovate’ your whole thinking and attitude as to what the word ‘drawing’ or ‘art’ really means. You have just stepped into the space of ‘radical review’.

This can, and quite often does, create quite an upheaval for those who are unprepared or unfamiliar with these ideas. It is not easy but if you just let go, you might be surprised at what exquisite dimensions or panoramas will unfold before you.

‘When a man takes one step towards god, god takes more steps towards that man than there are sands in the worlds of time.’ The Chariot

Just simply visually re-hashing a subject in front of you is not drawing. It is mechanical and non creative, in fact it is a kind of visual co-dependence. Technical illusionism is not drawing. Visuality is one layer of drawing but it is far from all that drawing is. It is one manifest (or recognisable) part of a much larger process. This one widespread, culturally propagated myth has alienated and driven more people away from drawing and ever having the confidence to draw than anything else………. simply because they believe they don’t fit within that selective, elitist set of (absurd and fallacious) criteria that is popularly called ‘proper drawing’. They are deemed then somehow ‘failures’….. by who?!….. and with what possible authority?!

It is a myth that prevents thousands of people from ever finding the confidence to draw or to explore their creativity or to give full witness and expression to their experience, their unique poetic.

Dynamic Drawing class is directed towards busting this myth and returning drawing back to it’s rightful owner….. namely you, the individual….. it’s purest source, the one most naturally qualified.

‘You use a glass mirror to see your face. You use works of art to see your soul.’
George Bernard Shaw

Everybody works in different ways, at different speeds and in different spaces. You simply cannot regiment that. Nor can you actually name it. Every class is different – different day, different gig.

People need that opportunity, that intimate ‘inside of you’ recognition….. and in a way that’s what drawing is. It’s the way you are drawn through and the way you witness the multiple perspectives of an experience in a really personal way.
‘Dynamic Drawing’ does not tell you how you should draw but offers you strategies on how you can develop your own ‘drawing language’, your visual translations and testimonies. It (the class) creates conditions in which such ‘drawings’ can occur. Drawing is a latent presence in everyone. The imagery, the narratives, the histories are already written within us, and it is written in a uniquely personal dialect and no force on earth can change that. Pure, free drawing offers that opportunity to explore one’s core experiences and it translates and structures them into vivid realities. It’s really very simple. It’s developing a practical consciousness and re-engaging with who you really are….. and that can be incredibly inspirational.

‘I shut my eyes in order to see.’ Paul Gaugin

So drawing becomes more of a process of self realisation than imitation. All the best art is original and flows from original energies. There is no more just one way to draw than there is one language in this world. The promotion of this idea i.e. one way to ‘properly draw’ is about as realistic as the ‘flat earth theory’.

The subject is ‘out there’….. that ‘thing over there’….. ‘you have to get it right’….. we’ve all heard it. And that’s fine if you are doing pictorials say for the covers of magazines or making images to promote or sell something….. you are then creating ‘saleable objects’ not art. That’s fine if commercial illustration is what’s on the agenda. But if you are talking about how something registers with you, how it makes you feel, what it sets off in your soul and how it pulses through you, then you are talking about something entirely different. You are talking about drawing and all its multiple and poetic layers. There is no separation of interest….. what moves you becomes an inexorable part of that description.

So how do you ‘talk about that’, talk about the way you are ‘signalled’ (touched or moved)? It is by ‘mark-making’ (setting up your ‘visual territory’). This is of absolutely primary importance in drawing….. how marks on paper read out and visually structure experience from within. Mark making is the meditative breath of drawing. And this brings up the really awesome notion that pure drawing is actually a philosophy, an attitude….. really monumental and multi-dimensional….. but drawing really begins with the realisation of this notion….. to ‘grock’ this is to begin to understand what drawing really is.

Most people’s ideas on drawing come from the school system tradition or formulaic newsagent books on how to draw – ‘horses, dogs, faces etc.’ or some sort of vague antiquated academic theory….. when in fact drawing is about being fully on the pulse of who you are, your immediate culture, context and realities.
‘We must never forget art is not a form of propaganda, it is a form of truth.’ John F. Kennedy

The strategies, structures and techniques used in ‘Dynamic Drawing’ have a direct bearing on the notion of the artist as individual. It takes courage to break out of the mould….. to start to move and ‘loosen up’. It is as much a philosophy as it is a meditation.

Drawing only starts when that philosophical dimension (with all its strategic adjuncts) is realised. To break out of that strait-jacket of popular mythology is as much about drawing as it is to pick up a pencil and make your first mark on paper.

‘With the pride of the artist, you must blow against the walls of every power that exists, the small trumpet of your defiance.’ Norman Mailer

Ron Curran Copyright 2008

Dec 202010

(The Journey)
(New energy & sacred collisions)

This talks about the division between traditional text book type drawing and pure language-based drawing.

When you have decided to start drawing things happen – it’s not like learning times tables or painting flowers on a card or joining up the dots but it means changing the channels…. you can, in a sense, hit right up against yourself…. you can go into a sort of emotional spin cycle, an identity crisis if you like…. you can have dilemmas and hit walls as you can equally go on a superb adventure of discovery….

I think it is important to remind all that, in this, you are not alone.
The ego can take a beating but if you are serious about wanting to go there, then you have to drop all previous and politely timid illusions about who you think you are and about what you think drawing is or should be.

That you have to maybe break your addiction to the fixed image, the singular subject… one must visit one’s instincts… it is necessary that one maybe has to get off the bus… that one no longer be a tourist… it is then one starts to remember, personally remember what great art is.

But how?
By a deliberate and conscious strategy of self examination, of experiment, of juggling images, of disordering visual perception… a rotation of one’s experience through more than one dimension… one perhaps remembers something… you may hear something… you do more than one drawing… each drawing works off the ones around it… you are taking notes… you are getting acquainted… you are making contact with who you are… you are not excluded… if something’s not working you try something new, you go to other spaces or you try new materials. You break old habits that may have been holding you back… you enter new perspectives (more than one) and try stuff. And try not to get embedded on just one level… we all hit walls… we all get stuck… and even get down… but don’t take it too seriously… it’s part of the journey… no shame.

It may be necessary to radically re-examine your vocabulary… to take a look at the meaning of words… what is meant by drawing? What exactly are we talking about? Can we assume any kind of definition or has it only ever been an enquiry into the nature of experience… what is ugly… what is beautiful… what is bad…what is good…what do any of these words really mean within the larger context of what we are looking at? ‘Label words’ are for lazy minds… be more subtle, take nothing at face value… accept nothing as fait accompli… this is the journey… the flat earth theory has been disproved… drawing is a working process, it is also a meditation, a philosophy, a reflection, a kind of yoga if you like… don’t lose sight of the broader issues… travel with an open mind… see every breakthrough as a kind of realisation… every realisation as only one more step in the odyssey that is drawing… be glad!

But what is good drawing?
It could be suggested that work is good, or is strong, or has presence if or when the integral elements of the work move together, have one voice or have resonance… when work is informed… when it’s integral components point to a greater and more valuable whole; or suggest something which is part of the greater cosmology… good work has mystery… it reveals something which is part of the abstract nature of the universe… good work has clearly upon it the hand or the signature of the author… good work has pow!… good work goes wow!… good work rocks… above all it touches, reaches, makes contact no matter how gently, seductively, subtly or even violently… it wears it’s own shirt… it has it’s own colours… it speaks it’s own dialect… it has no precedence… it is alarming in it’s innocence, surprising in it’s wisdom, incomparable in it’s originality and striking in it’s integrity.

Ultimately there are no rules… only open territory, naked states, coloured flags…. and only relevant or appropriate working processes. A relentless state of review… a distilled creativity… uncovering finally only that which is entirely real, that which is claimed, that which is owned, that which is met, that which is the by-product of joyful process and opened language writ pure without coercion, that which is part of the BIG BEAT!

inclusive excluding
unpackaged packaged
loose tight
adventurous tame
meditative designer
reflective THE GREAT DIVIDE limited
purist mercenary
distilled embroidered
vital boutique
inspiring cute
raw slick
mysterious sugar-coated
real illusionist
cutting edge done by numbers
original stylised
spacey enclosed
ambient predictable
spontaneous craft orientated
unmediated glamorous

Essential Criteria for the job:
courage / staying power
ability to go alone and be flexible
and not be afraid of the lions

Copyright  © Ron Curran  October 2003

Dec 182010

The dynamic drawing classes are a no frills, grass roots drawing forum where everyone is welcome to come and explore who they are and how drawing fits into this. There are no exclusions and there is no hierarchy, grading or criteria. If you would like to come to simply draw but for whatever reason you’ve had hesitation, blocks in your mind or obstructions of any kind, then now is the time to drop that, give that monkey on the shoulder the shove……. the tables in dynamic drawing are open to all and await you. You will be fully respected as the unique individual you are and given all the value, assistance and support you deserve.

We hold that everyone is special and different and has, at the very least, a significant and even extraordinary story to tell when it comes to drawing, and that is expressed in their own language and individual style that often effects an unexpectedly and a strikingly poetic range of images. This originality, within the history of art, is at the heart of all the best work and it is intimate and valuable beyond measure.

The very last thing that we would wish to do is to ‘mould’ anyone or push a ‘fixed’ drawing style; that would be destructive and de-humanising in the extreme………. all the best work has not only vitality and originality but mystery and the natural breath of human touch and vision. It is simply the only way to draw. All ‘structure’ in drawing comes from that original pulse. The classes are all about revealing, inviting and delivering those ‘structures’ back to their original owners, namely you.

‘It’s the natural instinct of a child to work within outwards; “First I think and then I draw my think.” What wasted efforts we make to teach the child to stop thinking and only to observe!’ Ananda K. Coomaraswarmy

Everyone’s experience of the world is different, unique and valuable and translates out into equally intimate and yet phenomenal narratives. Dynamic drawing is not just about drawing but discovering who you actually are. Strategies are used in a really positive way to help you on your drawing journey, to help you discover your own, original drawing language. It is not just another illustration class. Drawing at it’s purest moment is a vibrant, uplifting and contemporary philosophy – a way of translating your experience in real terms. In fact, just what art history, in reality, has been all about. It is part raw abandonment and part meditation and witness.

We are smarter intuitively that we could possibly believe. Strong work comes from that amazing intersection where our attachments and fears collide into the recognisable vision of who we are.

Dynamic Drawing also conducts group bookings and is available for school drawing workshops, corporate drawing workshops, hens parties and for other private events and group functions.

For more information, please click here