Monday, April 22, 2013

Thoughts on Drawing and Contemporary Work

Prior to this class I hadn't practiced drawing consistently (a week or more) for some three to four years. My usual approach to the craft was very methodical and I would try, when doing observational drawing, to approximate the material to the best of my ability. I would often work under a perfectionism and hadn't learned to distinguish or internalize how my final pieces and practice work weren't always going to be judged by the same standards, or that experimenting with different styles (as learned in class) was beneficial, or even that the ability to replicate was in practice to be chosen. I hadn't at the time learned much of art history, where simply glancing through the evolution of Picasso's work would teach these kinds of lessons.

I was surprised after a few trials to see how much my previous abilities hadn't devolved, reminding me of often quoted statistics about how the repetition of some activity over ten thousand times helps to internalize it. Now I had vague understandings of how artist's production evolves, an idea of some general tropes and aesthetic dimensions I have and want to incorporate in my own work, and some encounters with both wide arrays of art history and contemporary work. This helped me overcome what had previously led to me loosing interest or focusing too much on exactitude: I would view works by canonized masters and think of them as some singular path to imitate, or see more contemporary or modern works, and think of those as examples of how deviation from classical realism was some mutually exclusive path equally hard to succeed at because of the accessibility of the approach. After I learned to consider form and content and periodization more in looking at and producing pieces, I was much less confused. Keeping a sketchbook while practicing various styles of drawing helped me tremendously because I learned to draw formally in more time effective ways (creating study drawings allowed me to develop an intuitive feel for the piece and eschew erasing marks into smears on one and the same piece) and also had an outlet for more potentially experimental, everyday, and personalized production. I learned to understand both as valuable options in my production whereas beforehand I thought of the latter as tangential to a fault.

Having finally looked through some contemporary work, I'm interested in producing work influenced by artists and styles that are somewhat incongruous in their lonesome. I like the work of Chris Johanson, for example (, for its calculated irreverence and incorporation of text. I've realized now that the latter may be much more common than I thought. A few years ago I would never have imagined having an affinity for this kind of style. I'm also interested in work that can be both architectural and ordered, and surreal, like Paul Noble or Lebbeus Woods ( The latter is purely architectural, though I'm interested in incorporating this kind of approach to drawing cityscapes or infrastructural imagery without making the work purely conceptual, but leaving room for other incorporations such as text or figures. 

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