Drawing on Magic, Mystery and the Figure

Truffles, the kind put in risotto, can realize over $450 per pound. As an enthusiastic truffle fan I search every fine dinner menu I encounter for anything flavored with truffles, willing to pay the premium price asked. My pantry holds a treasured array of truffle salt, oil and butter. I can remember each event in which a there was a dish where the truffle could be truly tasted. It has that kind of power, which is why truffles can command the price they do.

The taste comes from a gas that the fungi emit for several biological reasons, but the result is the most delicate, elusive flavor that is almost impossible to describe. In cooking, care must be taken as heat destroys it. It dissipates over time, so storing and preserving truffles is challenging. A rare and wonderful thing, it is (strangely) found only by pigs and specially bred dogs. It seems a bit magical how the mysterious fragrance flavors the food. One small Ping-Pong sized truffle, left uncovered, can perfume a whole house.

What? What has this to do with painting? This elusive “magic” I describe is similar to what a life drawing experience has to offer. (I know—crazy!) The energy exchange that can happen when focus is attended to by both model and artist has been documented throughout art history. It is something not attainable in any other way. Matisse used the same models for years on end and often they just lay on the chaise as he painted the wallpaper (which was then rubbed out nightly). No book, no picture or statue of the same subject can elicit the mysterious presence that a model can.

Life drawing is not about anatomy. It is about seeing, just as last week’s drawing emphasized. But it’s still more– It’s about connection and the exchange of energy (like an elusive gas that perfumes your food). It is a focus that can bring about an altered state. It’s experiential. It promotes awareness in the moment. And this is our lucky week!

We are going to approach the model much like we approached your object last week. You will notice the difference. Remember the (paraphrased) Hoffman quote: “drawing should be free from the burden of imitation.”

Below is a description of drawing from the Georgetown University art department website:
“Drawing is the practice of applying marks, as line, texture and tone, to a surface or support, usually paper, using various medium such as graphite, charcoal, ink, and chalk. Pencils, brushes and other tools are used to apply the medium. Although sometimes incorporating text, Drawing is a visual language that can communicate ideas and information through images. The history of Drawing demonstrate its use as studies to investigate the personal, social, natural, scientific, spiritual, and imaginative aspects of life. In addition to the investigative nature of the sketch, drawings can become more polished works of art making sensitive statements about the subject and content depicted.”

“…..we focus on the student’s experiential development of imagination and creativity as integrating forces….”


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