Spring, Emergence and Drawing

Art has a lot to do with the energies of ascent and descent as I have written ( Circulatsio, Ascent and Descent ). These divergent movements create an image of the metaphorical earth below and heavens above, leaving some kind of middle space, a mesocosm of human endeavor, I suppose. The surface of the lower demesne is the garden (or it could cynically be the desert), which is the space of cultivation. That indeed wakes up in spring in art I think as well as in earth. It seems to be a space of Emergence in the tension between Transcendence and Immanence.

cultivated earth

Emergence is a really good drawing metaphor for me. Drawing can be approached as imposing one’s will on the field of action, an act of declaration, or it can be an act of receptivity, an intuitive exploration for discovery. It is of course neither, purely, but this is a useful typology for self-awareness as an artist. I tend to link my own drawing more to descent than ascent; I have a desire to be surprised, enlightened by my work as it emerges, to immerse myself in the substance of it.

My work may begin with an attempt to do something that is not entirely conscious, as if I need to stand in shadow of some kind so I can respond to it rather than control it. In shadow, in darkness, it is possible to see where the germ of light exists. It is not avoiding responsibility for the image, but rather a shifting of responsibility from conscious intention to a deeper awareness that can catch more subtle drifts of purpose, follow a thread that may be overrun by too much Mind or Will.

the ground at the threshold of drawing

A drawing often starts with a texture, a fertile swamp of marks and stains that feels very much like working in the earth. That cultivation reaches in time a critical mass. I lean into it with what is present in me, not a blank slate at all. All the time, I have been making images in my journal, writing, carrying many threads, listening to stories or discussions, worrying the edges of ideas. These things churn and perhaps connect in small bundles and influence a gestural response, a division of space, a sense of order, dark and light. At some point, these movements coalesce and seek more solid form. Then I have something to work with or against. Both energies are part of the drawing. There is as much need to dissolve or resist as to solidify and define. There is an ebb and flow that seems to energize the drawing and keep it from becoming stale.

The character of these energies varies greatly even in a single series of drawings. It is evident in the 14 Dilemma Tales drawings included in my Recent Work gallery.


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