Com­mu­ni­ca­tion & Dis­cov­ery

Through draw­ing, artists learn how to ex­plore sub­ject mat­ter in new ways and to greater depths

International Artist - - Contents - By Coul­ter Prehm

Job study. Op­po­site page: Raven

Ev­ery draw­ing has a life of its own. From the sec­ond we touch graphite to pa­per, a draw­ing be­gins to flow and be­come alive. As draftsper­sons, it is our re­spon­si­bil­ity to guide this new life to its al­most pre­de­ter­mined con­clu­sion, much like the banks of a river lead wa­ter to the sea. We need to re­spect the works we are cre­at­ing and al­low them to grow into ex­actly what it is they were meant to be be­fore the process of draw­ing ever be­gan.

Our prac­tice of draw­ing is one of com­mu­ni­ca­tion and dis­cov­ery. As we seek to com­mu­ni­cate our ex­pe­ri­ence of the sub­ject at hand, we in­evitably dis­cover and ex­pe­ri­ence said sub­ject in new ways and to greater depths. This is the joy and ad­ven­ture of draw­ing! We get to ex­plore the world around us. By look­ing closer and more in­tently than oth­ers may look, we also get to en­joy a se­cret in­ti­macy with the world avail­able only to those who have had cause to slow down and be ob­ser­vant and present in the mo­ment. This close­ness with the vis­ual and ma­te­rial world isn’t ex­clu­sive to artists, but we have been given a unique propen­sity and set of tools for in­ves­ti­gat­ing deeply those things that sur­round us. This leads to an in­creased pos­si­bil­ity of appreciating them richly as well.

All art is about speak­ing, shar­ing and com­mu­ni­ca­tion…to one de­gree or another. When com­mu­ni­cat­ing we must know the lan­guage we are speak­ing if we wish to be able to share thoughts and ideas in a way that is ed­i­fy­ing for our au­di­ence. There is no dif­fer­ence within the con­text of the vis­ual arts. Through the cul­ti­vat­ing of tech­ni­cal skill and un­der­stand­ing of dif­fer­ent medi­ums and method­olo­gies (lan­guage), we artists gain the tools we need to de­pict our ex­pe­ri­ence of re­al­ity, hu­man­ity and truth in a way that hope­fully af­fects oth­ers in a pos­i­tive man­ner.

Ad­di­tion­ally, it is im­por­tant to un­der­stand the power and emo­tive po­ten­tial of what­ever medium we choose to work in. Draw­ing is not nec­es­sar­ily a study or prepara­tory work, which pre­cedes a paint­ing, sculp­ture, etc. Draw­ing is a dis­ci­pline and form of its own with a unique abil­ity to con­vey and com­mu­ni­cate mys­tery, re­al­ity and the hu­man ex­pe­ri­ence. For me, some­thing dream­like oc­curs when I’m view­ing or mak­ing a draw­ing. As the el­e­ment of color (hue and chro­matic in­ten­sity) is largely re­moved in most draw­ings (speak­ing of graphite or char­coal draw­ings specif­i­cally), they some­how take on a more mys­ti­cal and/or mys­te­ri­ous pres­ence; seem­ingly less con­nected or grounded in the phys­i­cal realm than say paint­ings or sculp­tures. This feel­ing and opinion about draw­ing is, I ad­mit, my own and sub­jec­tive, but as vis­ual artists we should be think­ing about such things. Un­der­stand­ing how cer­tain types of medi­ums make us “feel” al­lows us more free­dom and pos­si­bil­ity for in­ten­tion­al­ity in re­gard to what type of cre­ative tool we might use to con­vey a given sub­ject, point or ex­pe­ri­ence. Put sim­ply, the more un­der­stand­ing we have the bet­ter we can com­mu­ni­cate. The de­sire to com­mu­ni­cate leads us to dis­cov­ery and new dis­cov­er­ies ini­ti­ate new im­pulses to com­mu­ni­cate. This is the cycli­cal life of an artist!

Dis­cov­ery about the sur­round­ing world changes us from the inside out and, with­out ex­cep­tion, af­fects our work and is what causes our par­tic­u­lar “voice” or “style” to emerge. Style is not so much a mat­ter of mark mak­ing or phys­i­cal us­age of a medium as it is some­thing more real and hon­est that be­gins to come forth in our work as we develop and progress as draftsper­sons and painters. It hap­pens nat­u­rally, not through mimicry, although the in­flu­ence of other artists upon us is in­evitable and needed. It is im­por­tant that our pri­or­i­ties and mo­ti­va­tions for cre­at­ing are deeply es­sen­tial and are con­cerned with re­flect­ing our cre­ative na­ture. For in­stance, goals for our work should not sound like, “I want to be able to paint like so-and-so,” but, “Hope­fully with enough prac­tice and time I will gain a higher level of un­der­stand­ing and be able to share that un­der­stand­ing through my art.”

Do you see how one fo­cuses on oth­ers, com­par­ing your­self to oth­ers, while con­versely, the lat­ter re­al­izes that this jour­ney of art and cre­ativ­ity is a per­sonal one that has more to do with dis­cov­er­ing our “true self ” and the na­ture of things than it does with mak­ing a nice paint­ing. When dis­cov­ery re­mains the fo­cus of our ef­forts and work, then in turn we are not as fo­cused on what oth­ers are do­ing or on be­ing “bet­ter than” some­one else. “Bet­ter than” think­ing may be use­ful in a mar­ket econ­omy and in re­gards to mak­ing money or a tem­po­rary sense of sat­is­fac­tion or some­thing, but it has lit­tle to do with what the artist jour­ney is re­ally about: pre­cise com­mu­ni­ca­tion and

dis­cov­ery on both per­sonal and so­ci­etal lev­els. Dis­cov­er­ies through cre­at­ing are largely the end goal and with each one that oc­curs we take another step down the path of re­al­iz­ing our per­sonal, full po­ten­tial and even, pos­si­bly, our role and rea­son for be­ing.

What you and I make mat­ters. We are con­stantly adding to the world through the cre­ation of our works. It is my opinion that we should con­trib­ute some­thing beau­ti­ful, nour­ish­ing and true as of­ten as we can. This is no small task and it will re­quire each of us to work dili­gently to grow in skill and in­crease our abil­ity to im­pact the world through paint­ing, draw­ing, etc. We are each do­ing our own small part. In the end that’s all we can do and hope­fully, through our com­bined ef­fort and in­ten­tion­al­ity, we can make a dif­fer­ence.

There are many ways to ap­proach the prac­tice of draw­ing and each artist needs to find the method­ol­ogy that works best for them. Ex­per­i­ment, draw con­stantly, try dif­fer­ent medi­ums and meth­ods and over time you will re­al­ize that some­how along the way (al­most with­out try­ing or notic­ing) you have ar­rived at a style and process that is unique to you and use­ful in shar­ing your ex­pe­ri­ence of the world. I hope through your work you are able to com­mu­ni­cate ef­fec­tively and that your jour­ney of art and dis­cov­ery would be filled with joy.

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