Drawing the Essence of a Figure
In the 1970's I began drawing dancers as they were moving in space. I was interested in capturing the essence of the movement with a few lines. I was inspired to do this from Henri Matisse who also attempted such a challenge.
I started out with just a pen and rendered the movement of the dancers. What seemed like a simple task actually became quite difficult. I would render hundreds of these drawings before one or two of them came together as a readable form. What also happened was that I would find myself so absorbed in the moment that it was like being in a trance or meditative state. I would enter this altered state while drawing, similar to repeating a mantra or drumming.Time would disappear and the only focus of my consciousness was the eye to hand movement from the dancers to my paper.
Much later, I became interested in shamanic journeying and discovered I had been doing just that all along, while drawing. From my exploration in shamanic practices, I began to access images from my inner world and began to draw and paint them.
Recently, I have been drawing faces.Most of them are straight from my imagination. As with the dancers, my interest is to capture the essence of the model behind the actual dimensions of the face. Even though I render the features accurately, that is, not abstractly, I express what I sense of the person's essence by my use of line and form. I have learned that so much can be said with the quality of a line and the simplicity of a form.for example: I made a drawing of a mother feeding an infant child. The drawing is very simple. To a keen observer the line qualities express tender feelings, and some of the shapes and forms suggest lunar images. Very subtly, I make a statement about a moment in time and capture the essence of that moment.
Over the many years I have been drawing the figure, I have discovered that the exploration is endless Often, while drawing from a model I would experience images and colors relating to the person’s essence. Sometimes I would see colors surrounding the person, other times I might see images of that person from other times and places. Even, at times I would notice density in one or several areas of the body. As I continued to be the objective observer of these experiences, I began to realize that I was reading energy. Along with my discoveries came the realization that subtle energies exist in everything. The soft focus of the artist allows for these energies to be seen.
In the 1980’s I studied with healing arts teacher, Dr William Brugh Joy. I learned from him more about soft focus attention and how to apply the information I was receiving to help myself and others heal. From his teachings I began to integrate this knowledge into my life and work.
This phenomenon does not only occur while observing the actual model, but also if I am drawing from a photograph. I do not like working from a photo because my own imagination and mind filters contaminate my perception. Also, the photographic image cannot give off the actual person’s energy. Through my imagination I can receive information but I can only guess if it is accurate.
Interestingly, these images seem to come directly from the back of my head. A painting I made of this is called “Lunar Sight”. I painted this during an intense time in my life when I was flooded with images and dreams. These experiences taught me how to pay attention to my muse.
Soft focus, mental focus plus clear direct visuals that enter from the back of my head are the tools I use to create my art.
I believe, really great art emits an energy that gives the work vitality.
That brings me to the present day. Drawing and painting images of energy patterns. Sometimes they may resemble an actual person and sometimes they may not. My intention is to capture an essence and not to name it. Simply to draw the patterns as I see them without definition.
Painters of the Renaissance and other eras painted this way I am sure it is nothing new. They painted glowing lights around objects and people. And, Van Gogh certainly saw more colors than others. These often called hallucinations, I think are real. Allowing myself to experience these visions was a gradual process. I had much fear of appearing insane, delusional or just plane mad. Slowly, I overcame my fears and started to accept the visions as normal. What I learned from Dr.Brush Joy gave me confidence. He said “ the difference between a mystic and a schizophrenic is the ability to center and ground oneself”. With renewed confidence in myself, centered and grounded in my own presence, I can move forward enjoying the adventure of my work.
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