Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Teaching Myself to Draw 7

Last week I went into the clinic for another IV drug therapy treatment for my chronic illness. I was anxious, and got little sleep the night before. Anxious because over the preceding two weeks I had developed a severe cough which had turned into walking pneumonia. I have a long history of bronchitis and walking pneumonia, and once you've had those you remain susceptible to them in future. I had also had a bad week personally, and was drained and tired. So I went in with some anxiety. The doctor gave, me some antibiotics, ordered a chest x-ray, and said I was okay to do the IV drug therapy. That had been in doubt, because the IV drug can aggravative pneumonia, and has the side effect of suppressing the immune system. But I got my treatment, got through it, and that evening I was able to play the Monster Jam gig in Madison. It was a long and tiring day, but I did better with it than I had anticipated.

While I was sitting there for several hours with a needle in my arm, this time out I brought my sketchbook/journal along, and some pencils. I was really tired from not sleeping the previous night, but too wound up to actually nap. I closed my eyes a few times, but I didn't sleep. Instead I made several drawings. On previous occasions I'd brought a novel to read, or spent most of my time talking to other patients receiving drug therapies. THis time out, for whatever reason, I was in the mood to draw.

For a few weeks now, I've been getting lots of images arising in my mind of iconic and shamanic beings. The kinds of images you see on the walls of the ancient caves of Lascaux and Trois Frères, caves in France full of the earliest known art made by humans. This suits me, as I am more interested in this kind of iconographic art than in being just another colored pencil artist who does photorealistic drawings. I am moving more towards iconic, mythic, and shamanic artwork as I continue to learn to draw with pencils. I've made several drawings from nature, which are indeed more realistic drawings, but mostly as exercises in technique, not as finished pieces. On this day of making drawings, I drew entirely on imagination, on the images I was seeing inside my own mind. The gods have been talking, and I've been listening.

This pair of drawings was made back to back. First I drew the stylized stag, then the drawing of The Wild Hunt. I am interested in exploring drawing the stag, the horned king of the forest, for its mythopoetic strength as an image. I've been feeling the presence a lot lately of The Horned One, Herne the Hunter, the Horned God, leader of The Wild Hunt that rides on Twelfth Night to chase the winter dark back to its home in the distant lands at the back of the north wind. The stag is a symbol of all that, and of the Horned One.

It came to me while making this drawing that the stag was standing knee deep in a quiet northern lake, reflected in the still water. So that's what I drew.

The drawing of the The Wild Hunt, which came next, was all about action, stylized shapes of hounds hunting across the turbid sky, under a fitful waxing moon. Again, not trying to be realistic here, but trying to evoke an archetype.

moon water haiku

This and the next drawing were warm-ups, calligraphic haiga made with a Japanese brush pen. Enso becomes moon becomes scene. Following the brush, wherever it leads.


Finally, I made this stag and moon drawing, while still of thinking of iconic cave-painting style imagery. I drew it with the Japanese brush pen I usually carry around in my pants pocket. I was thinking of a sculpture made of driftwood in the shape of the wild stag of the hunt. This is the sort of sculpture, made of natural materials, that transforms one thing into another: truly transformational, liminal, shamanic, alchemical. Changing shapes.

waning moon
driftwood effigy god

Then I was moved to try something new. I had the time, after all, sitting there with a needle in my arm. So I pulled out the colored pencils, and added to the brush drawing.

I haven't experimented much with this type of drawing before, mixing ink and pencil drawings. This turns a corner for me conceptually, in terms of drawing technique and of subject matter.

Again, I am more drawn to iconic, shamanic imagery for making these kinds of drawing. I'm not really interested in making photorealistic drawings of dogs and children, or of anything else for that matter. I can always make an actual photograph, if I want to. So for drawings, right now anyway I am interested in drawing not only what I see—trees, the land, rocks—but what I see in my mind's eye—those archetypes and mythopoetic images I made here.

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