Sunday, January 18, 2015

Intentional vs. Receptive Pen Drawing

  I recently inscribed over 100 envelopes for a wedding. On each back flap I added this little emblem under the return address. It is comprised of several components all done consciously, yet freely, within fixed parameters. The stroke groups are shown in A to F. 
  This is a very direct way to learn technique. Take any simple image and break it down into specific moves, then knock out dozens of them. You'll soon notice that each result is slightly different. Every phase of the operation will have its challenges which you'll gradually learn to overcome and finesse. You may even decide to combine some lines or rearrange the order as the design becomes more efficient. Plus you'll also be making aesthetic judgement calls about which drawings are the most successful. this subtle awareness will influence subsequent work.

 In contrast, here is a different way of drawing with a more receptive process. Working into a random texture provides countless opportunities for finding images that come almost fully formed. I am using a dill pod to texture a background, but other methods and tools will do just as well: a sponge, wad of tissue, stippling with an old ragged brush, etc. Little concern is given to technique in this process. With a little squinting, coffee and imagination, a myriad of images will compete for your attention. This is the polar opposite to the calligraphy above. That type of work begins with a conscious and controlled intention. In this receptive way of drawing, you are allowing risk to enter into the picture. 

  I've also included this larger ink blob example in which dense spots are conducive to visualizing images. This is much like the famous Rorschach test, an old  technique of discovering psychological makeup of subjects under observation. Since most artists are nuts, this is just their meat.