Monday, November 16, 2009

Paper Weightless

I always overwork my drawings when I'm getting used to a new medium but I'm at my worst with ink. It's new to me so I keep adding detail to a picture until it looks like a botched illustration or a frame from a bad graphic novel.
When I try to fix it, I overwork it some more. I'll black out whole areas to try to obliterate elements I don't need or to regain some sense of space. It doesn't help. Eventually, dense curtains of smeary ink obscure whatever it was I was working towards. The picture is an incoherent, irreparable mess.
I'm trying to pare down my drawings, to eliminate from them everything unnecessary. I resist the urge to 'fill' the page.
What I love most about working on paper is the paper itself. Between its porousness and unpredictable texture, a single good line can alight upon all kinds of subtleties in weight, shadow, movement and perspective. Make too many marks, allow too little space, and you can suffocate it.
One of my favourite works is The Bull, a series of 11 lithographs by Picasso. In the first three, the bull of the title is rendered realistically. In the fourth, the contours of the bull's solid body are traced, forming irregular but still three-dimensional shapes. As the series progresses, each unnecessary piece of line is removed until the bull becomes beautifully simple, if almost unrecogniseable. There is no shading, just an uneven, horizontal line.
To me, the last version is much more engaging to look at than the others. It's as if the animal has been reduced to its essence.
I'm not planning to deconstruct my ink drawings in quite the same way. But Picasso's stark reductions have inspired me to recover the purity of line, emotion and texture that I've too often smothered with clutter.


Caio Fernandes said...

i liked the head . and the pussy .
i always do .

but these ones are really cool .

no . forget . i never like the heads . just the pussys .
but i liked this one anyway .

Aaron B. Brown said...

Looking at the Picassos, I like 4 through 9 the most. But if I had to choose one to put on my wall, I think it would be #5 counting from top to bottom left to right. It seems to retain the necessary characteristics of a bull while still having some abstract quality that appeals to me. Though it's hard to appreciate them fully at this size. I also like #8 and I think I've seen it before.

As for your ink drawing, I find the apparent evisceration of that part of a woman disturbing, the arms and legs have an unsubstantial Jell-O like wavering quality. The head and face seem removed, as if that part of the subject was uninvolved in what was going on with the rest of the body.

My emotional reaction is one of fright, plainly put it makes me want to run away.

Rob Reeves said...

I always tell my students that much of drawing is what doesn't get put down. The space between the notes so to speak. I fall victim to the same tendencies tho. I get an idea and promptly overwork it. Then I have to go back, simplify, and start again.
Keep it simple.

Wallflower said...

I overwork everything I do, just as you say. From the grocery list right on down to a design for new sculpture. I don't know how to just let enough be enough. I think it is the fatal flaw of "perfecting".

Aaron B. Brown said...

[Continuation of something I wrote for a previous blog post here that these last few drawings brought back into my mind.]

While some can't see what they have inside of themselves, only perceiving a false image standing in the space they inhabit, another type of affectation this, deposited in their minds eye by the will of others, parents, society, whatever. How they long to be something else, anything else, anyone "better" than what they see. How they want to be beautiful, exotic, elegant. Yet there are already all these things, but they adamantly refuse those perceptions, so blind are they.

Their life passes before them never realizing that what they covet already exists within them. It's the kind of profound blindness that no other can lift from their eyes.

They find themselves channel every ounce of their creative energy to living vicariously through the lives of others in books, shows, everything, anything that doesn't remind them of what they see when they look at themselves. The realization that their own lives could be far more interesting and satisfy than any fiction that any writer could create, never occurs to them, so life for them is never fully lived.

They are trapped in a box, and they know it, it's not as if they're unaware, but it's all they've ever known. No matter where they go or who they are with, the box surrounds them, separating them. The closer someone comes to them the more the box contracts until it fits so tightly around the entirety of their body, as tightly as a condom filling every orifice and crevice of their body so that nothing can ever really touch them, it encloses their entire being.

No prophylactic or barrier of any kind will ever be necessary to protect them, because nothing can ever get through this barrier, it is impregnable, unbreachable unassailable.

And yet it's still not enough to satisfy their need to keep themselves separate and protected from the chaos that others represent, even the possibility of joining with another and creating something that is of themselves cannot be tolerated. Healthy reproductive organs are untimely ripped from their moorings and toss into the biohazard bin. Goodbye and good riddance to the possibility of procreation, a possibility that had always terrified them. But even that is not enough.

Hazel Dooney said...

I've noticed that some of the comments are turning into texts long enough to support a blog of their own. I've decided to institute a policy of ensuring that comments are appropriate, brief and to the point.

Aaron B. Brown said...

My apologies

Elizabeth said...

I read this during a break in a struggle today with weak bamboo ink on paper. The most elegant lines are the most violent. Calculated then chaotic. Your piece is both. Very well done.