Drawing from the river of life
The other day I took my granddaughter down to the river to do some drawing. We have been drawing and painting side by side since she was little and as an ex art teacher it has been an instructive process for me. Knowledge can be quite restrictive when routine takes over from exploration, and I benefit from looking over her shoulder to see what a creative mind can come up with when it has not been channeled by a set of established procedures.
Today we sit beside the river and draw companionably together and talk about how the act of drawing itself opens up an awareness of a host of associated observations. The feel of the sunlight on our faces, the flow of the water as it slides over the river rocks carrying the first Autumn leaves to the sea, and its whisper of sound which is nearly drowned out by nearby rapids, and all the little inner thoughts that surface like fish in the stream. Drawing can be a meditation, a time out of time where we can be aware of simply being alive and part of the larger world.
Some days I draw to record as much detailed information as possible, but today I look for the essential lines and forms only. Picture making with pencil on paper is different from photography in that it is so much easier to select detail, to emphasis or eliminated certain information. It also means that the marks I make can become a pattern in themselves, sourced from nature but part of an independent structure - a new thing in the world that does not rely on verisimilitude. A photograph is so 'like' we do not pause to think about it, but a drawing calls on us to participate, to puzzle over it for a while. One might make a comparison between a documentary news report and a poem: information versus feeling. I draw, and in the process the river draws me in.
When I later pick up my camera the mood is still with me and I find myself being very selective; carefully composing for lines and forms, shadows and light and colour relationships, which are the visible signs of a deeper vision, a deeper awareness that flits in and out of our everyday minds but which I have focused today. This Fall day on the Englishman River has risen like a high tide in my consciousness thanks to drawing. This Fall day with my granddaughter, together, drawing from the river of life.
- Drawing turns the creative mind to expose its workings. Drawing discloses the heart of visual thought, coalesces spirit and perception, conjures imagination; drawing is an act of meditation. by Edward Hill in The Language of Drawing.