Wednesday, June 01, 2011

Water from a vase - March 31

Last evening I was invited to a private drawing session with a small group of french artists in Paris. That's really nice. It's rare to get an invite like that.

This is the last drawing I produced from the 2 hour session. So what's so special about this? The drawing was done in 20 minutes and the models, particularly Bertrand, had to hold the same very challenging position for that period, without moving. Bravo the models!

The other thing, is the line quality. I've always felt that there is no real limit to the amount we can do and see in a short period of time but everyone seems to work from the basis of low expectations. There was an artist there encouraging everyone, making comments on work etc. He wasn't a teacher. He was saying that the arm knows what to draw and just to move the entire thing and the drawing will just come out. I agree with that, though I don't think it's easy to comprehend with the logical mind and it requires a certain amount of surrender to achieve.

The mind comprehends a great deal very quickly and it's only when we really try to analyse too much that it slows down. It's perfectly capable of communicating from eye to hand without any need for understanding, experience with perspective, internal narrative etc. In fact the stiller the mind the better the process. It pours out of the hand like water from a vase.

Some of my earliest drawings, from the age of 11, were like this. They shocked me at the time and I tried and tried to be like that all the time but it took me years of hard work and learning to realise that all the knowledge and experience, might just, be getting in the way.


Helen Ström said...

Hello Tom!
Very interesting what you explain here in fine words. It's not always easy to put words on what's going on when drawing for real. The state you mention is what I like to call "a zen state". Your mind is like all quiet, and you're in confidence with what you have in front of you and you just let your hand and arm do the rest. Just as you so well express here.
But I also think that practice and knowledge helps to get there. Knowledge we should stop thinking about when drawing, it should just be there inside us.
This state is what I search for every time I draw. Music in my years help me reach it most of the time, by isolating myself, inspiration helps too. But some days it's just not reachable.
Thank you, Tom, for charing this.

Tom J. Byrne said...

Hi Helen
You could be right. If that is true, there is another question. Are some people born with the knowledge while others have to acquire it. If so, how?
My parents weren't artists.

Prehistoric paintings exhibit an incredible degree of ability. One has to wonder.

John Mulvay said...

O yes. Thanks for reminding me; the mind just gets in the way