‘A drawing‘ is the result of seeing. When I draw the tree, I am faced with a mystery. I must enter into this mystery or fail. Whatever I draw confronts me with the mystery of Being’ (Frederick Francks , ‘Zen Seeing, Zen Drawing’)
Drawing is one of an artist’s fundamental building blocks, and when we begin we are usually pre-occupied with notions of accuracy, believing that this is what makes for a ‘good’ drawing. The truth of the matter is that a more convincing drawing is one that truly conveys the connection that the artist has made with the subject of the drawing.
Ask any artist what happens when they are drawing and you will hear words such as ‘the flow’ or ‘being in the zone’ or ‘drawing is meditative.’
So what’s going on here, because clearly none of those states of mind have got anything to do with accuracy or representation?
When I started drawing I was also hooked in to the idea that, in some way I was ‘not good enough’ when my drawings weren’t accurate representations. The truth of the matter is that as long as we remain fixed in such notions we are locked into a state of separation.
But when we allow ourselves to get lost in the moment and be ‘grasped’ by the thing, as Francks puts it, when we bring eye, hand, heart and subject into a wonderful harmonious alignment, we open ourselves up to the mystery and the oneness of everything.
Frederick Francks, sums it up in a nutshell: It is the ego liberated from its isolation and infinitely, cosmically extended. All the boundaries between I and Thou, between subject and object, have been crossed, erased.’
This is so very true. I know that I have spent time drawing something until I really see it something magical happens - boundaries that separate are dissolved and my relationship to it changes forever. In short, my perception of it has changed forever.
Of all the different things that we draw, drawing the human figure in Life Drawing is, without a shadow of a doubt, the most difficult. You simply cannot fudge a life drawing, because everyone knows what a human figure should look like.
For an artist drawing the human figure - usually nude - is one of the best exercises. You could compare it to a musician practicing scales and arpeggios. To do it, though, is not quite as straightforward as we would wish, for a number of reasons - models who will pose nude are not so easy to find, and not all models are able to hold a pose well or for any length of time. Then there is the matter of finding a venue that is discreet enough for nude modelling, and warm enough for a naked person to pose for a decent length of time. And last, but by no means least, are the costs involved - for the venue, for the model’s fees……
There have been phases during my art career when I have been able to work from the nude figure, and they have been immensely valuable. It is something that I wish I could do more of because Life Drawing really feeds into everything else that I do.
I have just created a new Page showcasing some of my Life Drawings - https://www.marylynnestadler.com/life-drawings - I have many, many more in my sketchbooks and Plan chest, too many to photograph, but anyone on the island who would like to see more, is very welcome to arrange a visit to me at the studio. All are available for sale, and all are included in my pledge to the #artistsupportpledge - https://www.marylynnestadler.com/artistsupportpledge
‘To see is our Original Nature, our True Nature. To look-at is a product of our conditioning. To see is not to grasp a thing, a being, but to be grasped by it……to see is that specifically human capacity that opens one up to empathy, to compassion with all that lives and dies.’ (Frederick Francks , ‘Zen Seeing, Zen Drawing’)