Mediating Vision: a class in drawing meditation?

Drawing found things

Walking this morning in the bright spring sunlight, I happened on a pine cone, a weathered piece of wood, a twisted twig with peeling bark: the kind of objects I like to have before me when I want to draw, slowly–in a state of concentrated attention. While few of my finished pieces are representational–it’s in drawing that I learn to see. Drawing mediates between what my eyes encounter, and the corresponding inner vision that is the source of my art.

The photos below are examples of what I think of as drawing-meditation.

It occurred to me on my walk, that I would enjoy teaching this kind of drawing–for anyone, but primarily for people who don’t think of themselves as artists, who believe that art is for special people with ‘talent,’ who have convinced themselves that they “can’t draw a straight line with a ruler”

The goal would not be to learn to draw–in the usual sense of what that means: making drawings that “look like” what you see, but rather, to learn to see through the mediating act of making marks on paper. Drawing as meditation, as the key to opening the third eye–to seeing what is there, and what is not.

There can be no right or wrong, no good or bad to the drawings we would make–because the marks and patterns we would be creating/dis-covering, wouldn’t be on the paper, but in the mind, where no one else can see to judge them.

We could begin, for those with no background, with some ideas about how to make different kinds of marks with a pencil, how to use a fine pen nip with ink. This too, is about learning to see: acquiring a simple vocabulary to use when we begin to translate the vision of the eye to the vision of … but why give that a name? …as there is no label that would be common to all.

We would need three pencils: a 2H, an HB, and a 3B. (later, you might want to add an even softer/darker pencil: a 4 or 6B.

A pencil sharpener (or single edge razor and piece of fine sandpaper)

A #102 crow quill pen nib and holder.

A bottle of India ink.

And paper.

If I had space to do this (I was thinking that a picnic table in a park would be perfect–where we could always find objects nearby to draw), and people who would like to do this with me, I might ask for $15 a session… but no one turned down for lack of funds.

Would you like to try something like this?

Silverpoint practice featherdrawing bark#459 silverpoint dry flowers#399#335 Sidewalk 2

First Art from the Ox

I moved into the Ox in July, 2012. A queer-safe unfinished warehouse in Kensington (Philly), occupied by an assortment of some 20 or so weird people: activists, queers, musicians, artists (and one subparticle physicist– who slept on the roof), a place I’ve never in my life felt more at home.  For the first time in more than 40 years, I found myself in a place where I had room to make art. For years, I’d been fascinated by found things, junk left in the trash, things I’d come across on streets and vacant lots and nursed dreams of assembling these objects–maybe together with drawings, painting–what Rouschenberg called ‘combines.’

The Ox itself was full of stuff–I put a board on a large table in an open space by an open loading space for light, and began arranging things, moving them this way and that. I wasn’t thinking of re-making myself as an artist. It was something I could do without words–visual thinking that felt like ice breaking on a river after a very long winter.

After coming back from a week long interruption, walking from Philly to New York and Zuccotti Park with the OWS Guitarmy, in honor of Woody Guthrie’s 100’th birthday, I bought Modpodge, found some old cans of house paint, borrowed some jars of acrylic, and put this piece together.

#1 88x64cm
88×64 cm. Assorted trash, branch & twigs, glitter, house paint and acrylic on wood. And poems. For my Poem Tree on East Passyunk in South Philly.

The next piece, a piece of rusted steel, glass, wood scraps, washers and a rusty nail on cardboard and a frame from an antique photo album. 30x24cm.

Called it Sexuation, and signed it ‘Willard,’ my legal birth name, which I’ve never used. Named for my maternal grandfather, who died two weeks before in I was born,I thought it would be a way to honor this man I’d never known, and my uncle, an artist and mentor, who I’d recently learned has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s.

The next day I went to Utrect and bought brushes, pigments and more Modpodge.  We made one of the rooms in the Ox into a studio. As of this day, January 25, 2015, I’ve finished another 301 pieces,  assemblages, ‘combines,’ drawings and paintings.

x#2 Sexuation

I’ll be posting both old and new work on this blog. Stay tuned.