Archive for April 2nd, 2010

Artmaking is a paradoxical process.  It’s both rational and irrational.  It engages all parts of your brain, the left brain which prefers to proceed systematically and analytically; and the right hemisphere which likes to synthesize things by finding patterns in diverse elements.  In reality, it’s not that simple, because the wires are actually crossed.  Anyway, when you’re learning to draw or paint or make music or write engagingly, you will want to do exercises that tickle both sides of your brain.  For example, if you only draw representationally—getting perspective, proportion, shading perfect—you will develop into a very competent technician.  That’s fine, but it’s not art.  To develop into an artist you need to do all that technical stuff I just mentioned PLUS you need to get at your irrational side.  Well, you may think, that’s easy since “I know I’m a nut, my life is irrational & chaotic to begin with.”  You would be wrong.  This is harder than you think.  I can easily teach you the techniques and turn you into a technician. Bringing out the wonder of your irrationality, that’s the hard part.  In my teaching, I have exercises for this.  Yesterday, every student held a small concealed object in the left hand, while drawing it—without seeing it—with the right hand.  Most students drew diagrams of this object rather than giving in to texture and mystery.  That proves the point: the rational faculty took over.  Only two students made scribbly marks that came out of a feeling for texture and surprise.

Here’s a still life by a student, Judy K, produced yesterday after the concealed-object exercise.  This is a lively,  engaging drawing.

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