Vlorbik's Diner

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meanwhile in a distant comment thread (crosspost)

Posted by vlorbik on September 16, 2009

drawing has been important to me
on and off. certainly i’ve always loved
*other* people’s drawings but for me
actually working at it has come in
short and infrequent bursts
(of, say, several weeks … sprints
for some previously-unreached
level of attainment).

so i don’t know much about drawing.
but i know this about art.
*artists* make art.
and exercises are highly optional.

i’ve set *myself* exercises sometimes.
but it can be corrupting:
practice for the sake of practice
is better than nothing
(and necessary if one is
in some big fat hurry
to get to some finish line
real or imagined).
but it isn’t art.
not yet.

this is entirely a matter of attitude,
in case that isn’t clear.
(i suppose even batting practice
could be art on my model here
if you’re *really*
swinging for the fences…
or rather, if you’re working
at *changing* your swing…)

i know very well and have told
anyway dozens of students
(i haven’t known it very well
for *long*) that it’s a darn good
idea in studying a math book
(in particular) to copy its drawings.

even if one is indifferent to
developing drawing skill in
any other area (if that were
possible; everyone would
*like* to be able to draw
of course if they only weren’t
afraid to try)… this is a good
thing even if only to learn
the *math* better.

you think you know
what you’re looking at
but you won’t have looked close
until you actually try to copy it:
the *reasons* things are
as they are seem to emerge
through movements of the hand.

the skill is essentially just
*be much more careful*
(about looking at things
[an already existing drawing
and one’s own] here;
about reasoning in maths;
about hearing and controlling
sounds in music…
what have you).
the trick is to care.
for a long time.

part of the point in my “copying”
example is that
by telling myself i’m studying
maths not art i free my mind
from certain false notions i might have
about how best to *study* drawing
and just go ahead and *draw* something.
in this case, lessons in perspective
(for example) will be built in
but it’s just something that happens.

and exercises are usually
somebody *else*’s idea.
artists generally have to convince
themselves (at least!) that
they’re working with
ideas of their *own*….

school systems are indifferent
to the plastic and performing arts.
but outright *hostile*
to the art of teaching.
caring about *anything* is dangerous;
caring about caring is subversive.

thanks to dawn for an offhand remark
inspiring of a pretty lengthy ramble.
let me just finish by adding that
i don’t think our positions are
actually all that far apart.

4 Responses to “meanwhile in a distant comment thread (crosspost)”

  1. Sue said

    Once I took a class called drawing on the right side of the brain (ironic, considering where this thread comes from). I was taking as many classes as I could to stay busy and keep out the pain of losing the woman I loved. I couldn’t draw, too absorbed in my pain. But I could write. So I wrote this during the class:

    In drawing class

    I want words
    One step removed.
    It’s fun, but foreign
    This attempt to really see
    To look a shoe right in the face
    —which way does that torn thing go?
    get the lines—
    no value no judgment no analysis
    just see it carefully draw what is there.
    I want to communicate, and
    My drawings are a language I don’t understand.
    Scary, not to know what I’m saying.

    I lose myself in my math.
    It spins the wheels in my mind,
    keeping you out.
    I’ve never lost so much so suddenly.
    You were my lover, my future, my best friend,
    My big sister/little sister/child/mother, my
    therapist, cohort, dancing partner, roommate,
    buddy. I’ve never had so much.
    And never lost anyone this dear
    So thoroughly.
    Once I loved my Brazilian home,
    my mamae, the feijoada, and the heat.
    I had to leave them all, but I knew
    I could come back some day.
    I lost it bit by bit, as I grew away
    from my memories.
    But you. I can’t return. I can’t go back.
    I’ve lost everything.
    Do you know how much I love you, woman?
    Do you know how you filled my life up
    with joy & hope & silliness & cuddles,
    And understanding?
    I don’t want to draw.
    It makes me think of you, of all I’ve lost.
    . . . there was a woman once with orange-red hair,
    With a slow smile that blossomed
    When she felt safe.
    She loved me.
    (As I write, it’s hard to truly remember
    That far back
    Past all the fights, all your disgust,
    To the months of joy.
    Did you really smile at me like that?
    Did you? Really?)
    She was going to raise children with me.
    She dreamed of travels we’d take,
    and of growing old together.
    She is you. She isn’t you. How we’ve fought over
    You gave me gift after gift, joy after joy,
    You wild & courageous woman.
    I wish I weren’t so in love
    with those kindnesses you regret now.
    But the child in me misses you, too.
    She became more vivid in your arms,
    and mourns their absence deeply.
    Dance with me in my dreams,
    rebel of my heart.
    I never danced so hot, before you.
    And, though I don’t dance like that now,
    I’m still freer in my movement,
    Falling deeper
    Into the trance of the rhythms.
    I couldn’t draw tonight.
    You came crashing in
    With every pencil stroke.

    Sue VanHattum
    October, 1989

  2. Sue said

    (That lost a bit of the formatting…)

  3. Sue said

    Me again.

    At other times in my life, drawing has been such a joy. Now the drawing I’m thinking of was pretty much ‘exercises’ as far as a real artist would be concerned. In art class (at the CC), the teacher says draw this skull. But it’s the closest I’ve come in the visual arts.

    Usually I just doodle – express myself – and of course it’s nothing as grand as that skull.

  4. kibrolv said

    wow… thanks!
    there’s a theme developing
    about how various arts
    comment on each other.
    the “art is looking
    more carefully” connection
    is duly noted.

    did everybody see
    this charming video
    at brazen’s the other day?

    there was an old selfportrait of me
    at the peak of my drawing power
    in the early eighties on vlorblog 2.0.
    lost now. easy enough to upload
    *something* again of course
    and eventually i probably will.
    but it’ll be nothing to make
    a fuss about.

    music looks like more trouble
    to learn how to upload but that too
    is probably just a matter of time.

    i’ll go ahead and mention here
    that it was sue v’s student-created
    videos that first caused me to notice
    her blog.

    (the fact that all this is going on
    through the mediation of the web
    doesn’t escape this technophobe.)

    “i want words” is a fine description
    of one of my own obsessions of course…
    all this “there is no fact of the matter
    because we can never say what we mean”
    stuff i’ve been rambling on about
    comes from me trying *not* to
    want words quite so much.
    for example.

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