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I paint, make collages and mixed media work. I write poetry. I reflect on the Tao.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Imaginary Dialogue with Peter London's Drawing Closer to Nature 2

I skipped ahead to the chapter on media:

In truth, this entire chapter may be compressed into two sentences: Any substance will serve as an art material. Handling any medium with devoted care for its outer and inner reality enables you to draw closer to Nature....
It is the fit that counts, the alignment between the artist, the media and the task. ...
Everything has a nature, an inherent particularity and susceptibility. 
Peter London Drawing Closer to Nature 

Or, as Lao Tzu put it, everything has its Te, its virtue, its essence; or, more prosaically, the inherent nature of the medium.

Is Peter saying anything more than that which all artists have known: you have to respect the material?

A question which brings me to the notion of resonance/sympathy/rapport between the artist and the medium.

What I feel to be the essence of some media seem to resonate with me. For example:

I love the wateriness of watercolour, the way it flows and spreads across a dampened page, the way wet colours flow and merge into each other, the way it blooms when a drop of water is added.

I love the velvety sootiness of compressed charcoal and the silky smokiness of vine charcoal.

I love the butteriness of oil paints, the way they slide across the canvas, the way one colour merges into another, how a wet colour can scumble over a dry surface.

 I love the chalkiness of goauche, its velvety surface, the way one colour lays over the next.

 On the other hand, I feel indifferent, if not outright antagonistic, to using marking pens, biros, oil pastels and all digital tools, They seem alien, cold, distant.

As I read through those lists (and think about how I use pencils and forgot to add conté and pastels to my loves) I realise that the quality which underlies my rapport with these materials has to do with their tactility and the way they move across/interact with the surface. It's about the touch. It's about that which allows "that within me" to move freely through the hand. Or, perhaps to put it even more accurately, it's about that quality of the material that calls forth "that within me".

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