Friend, artist, and blog reader Ed Felker compared them with a drawing I did last night:
He said something interesting about the newer portrait in comparison with the Piera drawings:
I like it more but probably for a weird reason. I can't imagine drawing - or seeing someone else drawing - the previous set. I like, and relate to, the bit of exploring that comes with this type of drawing, finding the line, moving it a bit, committing in some areas with a bolder, simpler stroke. I don't know, I just like the thought of all of it, the discovery of the shape through the feedback between your eyes and hands, and I like seeing the artifacts of that discovery in the faint lines you moved away from.The difference Ed is describing is something that we could describe as the difference between adult drawing and childlike drawing. I use these terms in light of Picasso's famous comment, "As a child I drew like Raphael, it took the rest of my life to draw like a child." The reason I would call the Piera drawings childlike is because - to solve the mystery for you, Ed - I drew them as a child draws.
A child does not seek the right line, revising, expressing subtlety and differentiation, comparing the minutae of the drawing and the thing drawn. A child puts a line on the paper and moves on. To draw like a child is difficult to do, because it is scary to do. You must abandon your fear of error. There will certainly be errors.
To draw without hesitation is very hard to do. You must draw quickly, you must not go back, you must surf forward and then when you are done you must not fiddle around, but rather say, "Now it's done - next!"
When I draw this way, I reduce the number of lines I make on the paper. I also hold the pencil differently. I usually hold it softly and gently. When I draw this way, I hold the pencil the way a child holds a crayon, with a stiff and unfeeling hand, jamming it down onto the paper so that the point is rapidly worn away. But I draw each line more slowly, in the dull, deliberate way a child makes a straight line between two points.
I think that drawing this way is a good way to break up the choking ice floes of the visual mind. You work for ages to master a technique, and then you sink into the technique as you would sink into a large and comfortable chair; you can't get out of it, your ass goes to sleep, your blood begins to thicken and slow. It is good to strip yourself of everything you have, sometimes, and make do with little or nothing. When it works, you produce work that looks miraculous, that looks uncreated. When it doesn't work, you get a good slap in the face to remind you that most of what you do is trash anyway, no matter how much technique is backing it up.
I have several more posts to write on this and related subjects:
-the maximum surface area of the field of visual comprehension
-some thoughts on Hokusai, Matisse, and line, which thoughts I cannot remember just now, but I know I thought them
-the long-delayed Edges and Edge Detection, part IV
-the Piera Pregnancy Project
I'm just going to leave this little list here so that (a) I remember it and (b) if I don't get to it, you can remind me if you like.
I notice we have a few visitors from New Zealand. Thank you for reading, and I hope that if you have family or friends in the Christchurch area, they're doing alright.