Draw, draw and draw again

There’s a lot to be said for sessions of intensive drawing. I can remember frantic days of drawing workshops producing drawing after drawing in my art school days. My daughter, now doing a art school course of her own, is experiencing a similar intense working process.

In a working life that is filled with any number of commitments and distractions a sustained period of drawing is difficult to achieve, but the advantage of working on drawing after drawing in a condensed period is multiple:

• You don’t loose your place in the flow of the work, it is a continuum

• You don’t loose time in repeating and retracing steps that have already been made

• A sort of cumulative effect is built up, where although you might be producing a series of drawings, together they amount to a sense of whole, a single unity almost.

But perhaps most important of all is the element of risk taking that seems much more to become an intergral part of such an intense creative process. Maybe you become less attached to individual pieces of work, maybe it’s just that you become more open and inclined to experiment or maybe it’s just that you simply want to push each subsequent piece of work to a new place.

Whatever exactly is going on in the process, it does seem to be particularly dynamic in terms of a productive creative process. Many artists have identified and recognized the value of this approach to their work.

The last few days I have been away on the Friesian island of Vlieland, just off the north coast of the Dutch mainland. We have had fantastic weather and I have gone out and about around the island to draw. It has become an increasingly frenetic process and has resulted in an extended series of more than thirty drawings made in just five days. It is a long while since I have been so productive in such a short period of time.

It has been a fascinating series. As the days have gone by the approach has become more experimental, often more reduced and at times extremely loose and wild. The challenge is there, almost hour by hour to push the next drawing just that bit further and to avoid safer routes that I know only too well I can rely on when being cautious.

Drawings that I make out in the landscape are only indirectly connected to my studio based work. I see this part of my artistic process as a rather more recreational process. A sort of parallel that runs alongside the more extended studio work. In the past I have made use of landscape motifs such as birds, or trees or pools of water lying in the landscape. During these days of sustained drawing I have become aware of a couple of new landscape or features that may yet make the step from the traveling sketchbook to the larger canvases produced in the studio, only time will tell if these glimmers of new ideas can be brought to a more resolved form.


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