Tag Archives: Ruth McCabe

Successful Drawing Part 1

Succesful Drawing

Drawing & its Relationship with Language

Drawing, to be successful, must operate at a sub- or sur- linguistic level. By that I mean, in order, for example, to draw a cup on a table we must forget what is “table”; we must forget what is “cup”. Otherwise what drawing becomes is merely a process of placing a series of signs or symbols onto the surface of the paper. We might as well save ourselves a lot of trouble and say in words “here’s a cup, here’s a table. The cup is on the table”. I hope it’s not too obvious  to state that a cup seen at 3 o’clock of a sunny afternoon is not the same as the identical seen at 2 in the morning by candle light.

Jorge Louis Borges wrote  about just such inadequacies of language,  its inability to give a true rendering of the world and how it might be made more accurate in “The Analytical Language of John Wilkins “. It really is a fantastic piece of writing and I would recommend anyone to read it more than once. But Borges, at the end, admits language’s failure in a quote from G K Chesterton:

“He knows that there are in the soul tints more bewildering, more numberless, and more nameless than the colours of an autumn forest… Yet he seriously believes that these things can every one of them, in all their tones and semitones, in all their blends and unions, be accurately represented by an arbitrary system of grunts and squeals”.

The world, in all it’s complexity, is literally indescribable. Any means of description is ultimately doomed to inaccuracy and error and language can be seen as only  a  crude system of signs, useful for providing information and assigning status amongst members of our species but ultimately alienating. This is where I would privilege observation and graphic representation over words. And why I’ll continue this in a second part and try to deal with some of the implications.

Cezanne chair

Paul Cezanne, graphite & watercolour on paper, 47x30cm

I haven’t heard hide nor hair about the fate of any folding sketch-books for a while. It’d be nice to know if they’re still out there. That’s all.

Actually as I was writing, an email arrived from Ruth McCabe with the next instalment from book three which is on here. I’m really looking forward to seeing at least one of these books completed. I’ll post Ruth’s drawing in the next day or so, so if it’s not there now it will be.

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Filed under Drawing, language

Playfully Serious or Seriously Playful- conversation 3

Just returned from a period of snow on the beach (not a cocktail) and leaking roofs in Devon and have much to do. But there was an interesting e-mail when we we got back. I had sent one of the albums to David Cook  (he of Airton, fine etchings, Rembrandt-esque drawings and slowly revealed space- see link) and this found it’s way back to Carine Brosse (see previous post). I started this one off with a very anodyne still-life and David has taken the theme and wittily, playfully, torn it up and turned it around and sent it off in a totally unexpected direction which Carine has run with & put another unexpected spin on. (Sounds a bit like a drawing/ 5 Nations final) All this seems to me to release a whole shower of unexpected meanings.

Whatever… I’ll just have to let the images speak for themselves…

3. David Cook  David Thomas

DCookEvoRevoDavid Cook

CarBrosseEvoRevo2  Carine Brosse

Despite what Paul Valery said about words  being only as a thin plank to cross a crevasse, not to be lingered on, I’ve increased the size of David Cook’s collage/ drawing so that the fragment of  crossword can be read better. But words isolated in drawings draw your attention to the manifold meanings packed  tightly within a small group of  letters. “Words are little winged fortresses”- Osip Mandlestam

Oh, and congratulations to Carine for having done a faster time than David Ashby in the Paris marathon!

I’m updating this on 8th May because I’m really pleased to have  received an addition to this conversation from Kim Edwards, all the way away in Saxmundham

Kim Edwards:con3

which is taking it further.From the distant echoes of sea in landlocked Grassington to the geographical reality of coastal Suffolk.

This is (for some strange reason) the only book where folk’s have consistently sent in images. Which is nice. But means that I just have to believe that the others are still out there, like William Franklin or Elvis.

But this delightful drawing by Ruth McCabe fell into my in-box last week-

conversation 3 ruthmccabe

I’d love to have an interactive map showing where all these come from but pencil on paper’s about as interactive as I can do. But it seems that there are areas in the country (and, despite not knowing the place, I do know of many of the artists) such as Suffolk where representation takes a more felt or sensed path rather than the way visual correctness is prized in Yorkshire. I over simplify, but there seems to be a more relaxed attitude in artists in East Anglia.

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Filed under Art, Drawing, imagery