on drawing
by Kye Nelson

In the act of drawing, there is a way of making the gestures that is just-so, which also shows when the drawing is done. It is a way of being in one's body so that it knows what to do to stay right in the place where the line really goes, and still it also knows that it's okay and good for the line to be loose and free. If the line were tight, it wouldn't be deft. When a drawing is successful, one can see that the line is spontaneous, and yet it is also exactly right. In the drawing as a whole, where the line goes and what it does there, is required and also sufficient.

In aesthetics, a long-standing problem is how to characterize the artist's "idea": that is, what the artist is guided by from start to finish. This guiding idea that the artist "has" seems to be some fixed something that is "held"--firmly enough to guide the process, but loosely enough to let spontaneous moves emerge. But in practice what is guiding the process changes in the process, is not (or not only) something possessed by or within the artist, and in some sense isn't even yet there-so it cannot be right that the guiding idea is actually fixed, had, or held. This is the case even (or especially) when one is simply drawing from life: when one is simply being faithful to what is before one's eyes.

The artist's initial and continuing "idea", "vision", "expressive intent", has to be understood not as a certain picture or form which mysteriously guides although it does not yet exist, but as a concrete, palpable, and unavoidably existing series of movements and responses to these movements--the palpable sense of the ongoing motion and its corroboration up to this point--which is, in its own right, a thing-itself-happening.

Kye Nelson is a watcher, thinker, and collaborative consultant. Find out more about her work at www.workingprocess.com or contact her at 210/413-4339, info@workingprocess.com.

This material © 2001 by Kye Nelson. All rights reserved.

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