Friday, December 31, 2010

Teaching Myself to Draw 8

A few days ago, I was back in the clinic for another IV drug therapy treatment. Those mornings spent with a needle in my arm that come every two months for now, those days after the IV I am useless for the rest of the day. It wears me out. I'm wiped out not only by sitting there with a needle in my arm for several hours, but also the psychological side of things; this was the same room where my Dad got his chemotherapy, after all.

This time, I angled my chair so I could see out the big picture windows. I could see the lone tree in the neighboring field, stark black on a perfectly flat white field. While I sat there getting my IV, I drew the tree twice. Once in pencil, and once as a stark minimal black-on-white calligraphy drawing, using my Japanese brush pen.

I noted while drawing each time that the tree was strongly asymmetrical from this vantage, with more feathered edges on the right, and heavier branches in the center and left. You're tempted to "correct" what you see, but the essence of seeing/drawing is to give what's there, not what you want to be there. There is no ugliness in imperfection, or in asymmetry. There is beauty, rather, in the way the tree balances itself in the air, despite any fractal irregularities.

Pencil drawing first, made with three different grades of hardness of pencil. Started with the softer pencil, drew in al the main trunks and branches, darkening and filling in as you go. The thinner branches at the ends of the main branches done with a harder pencil, pressing lightly, to suggest the feathering that happens at the ends of branches, smaller and thinner as they grow farther from the main trunk. The thinnest branches making a light halo of grey around the edges of the tree, feathering out to the pure white of the field in which the tree grows, the pure white of the drawing paper as white field. Drawn fast, looking all the while, taking time on the basic forms, then quickly filling in the details.

A calligraphic drawing, simple pure lines of black on a white field, details left out, just the main trunks and largest branches of the tree. Just something simple and suggestive. Drawn as an exercise in how much of the brush-tip meets the paper: starting thick and pressed down, gradually lifting the brush, lighter and lighter touch, thinner and thinner line, till it feathers out at the edge. Discipline of attempting to draw each branch as a single unbroken stroke, following thin and thick of the actual tree with the variance in the line. Drawn slowly, moving the brush on the page slow and steady, taking time to feel the pressure differences and how they change the line.

Just for fun, a superimposition of the two drawings together, pencil and ink overlaid, just to show how the observing eye sees the same basic shapes and forms, the same thick branches, even though there are differences in the details.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

These are amazing images and requires talent. With your permission, can I use one of these drawings for a non-profit organization? You, Arthur Durkee, will get credit.

6:36 PM  
Blogger Art Durkee said...

Without me knowing a lot more about who you are and what purpose you would have for using the drawing, no, you do not have my permission.

Which non-profit organization? Who? I don't have enough data here in order to make a decision.

I make my living from my creativity. So under normal circumstances I don't just give it away like that. I need to receive some kind of payment for it. Although I can be flexible as to what "payment" means in cases like this.

10:37 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I understand completely. Your drawing would be used by a school club.

6:59 PM  

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