the drawing board

i like drawing.  it's an inexact science.  i always draw out my paintings first.  then i color them in.  ken danby said that "without good drawing, the foundation of a painting will collapse."  not entirely true, but partially.  a drawing is like a foundation.  using your eyes to examine the contours of an object, and trying to replicate that object on paper, there is always a certain margin of error.  but that is what makes painting painting, and not photography.  you can see evidence of the artist's hand in the work.  and the work, like the artist, is never mathematically perfect.  that's what makes it unique.

when i first started painting, i was a tentative draftsman.  i didn't trust my hand to do the good work of setting the stage for my paintings. and so for a while, i used an old projector that my mom gave me.  i legitimized it because she always said: "one of the best ways to learn is to trace.  it helps you develop a familiarity with drawing and what things are supposed to look like in relationship to each other."  so i figured, it's kind of like printmaking, essentially.  it's my gateway tool.  but truthfully, i was embarrassed about it, it felt like a cop-out, like i was cheating on a test and i didn't want anyone to know.  and then one fateful day, i dropped the lens of my precious projector and it shattered into a million pieces.  devastating.  i called to get a replacement, and found that the special curved glass would be a few benjamins in damage.  ouch.  so i figured it was a sign, and i set out to try the grid technique of drawing that i learned in college.  it worked well for a while, drafting the portland buildings i was painting at the time, and soon i was wielding a ruler and making measurements. my drawings developed into tediously accurate architectural renderings, but they were stiff, and so calculated that they seemed dead.

nowadays, i let it all hang out.  my pencil has a mind of its own.  because somewhere, within the realms of repetition, i think i learned how to draw, and i simultaneously let the rigidity go.  so with a new measure of approximata, my work seems strangely more human, or soulful, or vibrant...at least to me.  so the work paid off. and that is something i am proud of.  initially, i may have put the cart before the horse, but it seems like now we've got it all straightened out.

learning to draw, before you paint, is like learning to walk before you run.  
-don getz

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