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