I’m off to do a summer school in traditional drawing and painting techniques with the London Atelier of Representational Art (LARA). I’ve told a few people and have had some surprising reactions. It’s been a good prompt to examine my thoughts, ideas and motivations prior to what will, I am sure, be an interesting and significant summer.
Those of you that know me or my work will know that I have a strong interest in draughtsmanship, which I am keen to develop. But I do confess to wondering if I really have the self-discipline required for traditional methods. I may be forced to acquire some/more, I’m pretty sure that will be a good thing.
I think that technical skill in art, like most other things, must be developed. Skill provides the tools of expression but it is not an end in itself. I believe that expression has the greatest scope when skills are sufficiently developed and assimilated to the point that they are mostly applied unconsciously, giving the freedom to focus on feeling, expression or whatever is the motivating force behind your work. (Actually doing it is harder!)
It can be argued that technique imposes constraints. I agree, but from my experience of design I know that constraints promote rather than stifle creativity, i.e. the more constraints imposed on a problem the more creative you have to be to solve it. Pretty much everything that can be repeated is a technique, after your very first attempt at something there is an element of technique, though not necessarily a good one. In the absence of zen-like ‘beginner mind’ it seems better to me to develop technique, to pick it up, put it down or manipulate it, in the service of expression.
I think that understanding the nature of constraint aides the search for freedom. As always I am struck by how the lessons of art apply to life: Are they different?
I plan to post my progress/photos/drawings/observations as I go, and maybe show some of the work I produce when I return. Let me know what you think, any questions or what you’d like to see.