Saturday, October 22, 2011

Artistic Devices

Here's an observational sketch of an old guy reading with a magnifying glass.
I used a fat black marker and a skinny pen on smooth paper.
The idea, of course, was to group all the darks into a single shape and contrast that with the light line work. I did this sketch about 30 years ago when I was just out of art school.

If I were to do the same drawing again today, I'd probably use a water brush and a fountain pen, and I probably wouldn't have made the artistic device so obvious. 

Although it's a fun idea to contrast a big shape with line, the way I feel now is that if any abstract device gets in the way of seeing the character, it weakens the drawing. This is an aesthetic judgment, and we all differ on such things, but my feeling now is that artistic devices should be concealed and should be a conduit to more universal human values.


Erik Bongers said...

In general I agree with your point of view, but nevertheless, I think it's not a bad idea to once in a while just go for the effect.
But I agree that even the greatest effect get's boring when repeated too much or when too obvious.
Ralph Steadman may be a good example. Some people will love it while others will get tired with that ink-splash-turned-into-drawing folly. I guess I'm in the middle here - I can easily relate to both views.

Humza Khan said...

I think it's a nice piece with a strong bold graphic quality. Would you be willing to elaborate what you meant by " artistic devices should be concealed and should be a conduit to more universal human values?"

Frank said...

"To my mind a fanciful, eccentric technique only hides the mater to be presented, and for that reason is not only out of place, but dangerous, wrong." --Robert Henri

In the case of any great artist, the means serves to strengthen the expression. Picasso, Cezanne, Diebenkorn, Pollock, De Kooning, Guston, Van Gogh, Freud, and countless other great painters ... Their departure from naturalism was an honest and powerful one, and one that served to strengthen their expressions, rather than to show flashy, shallow "style."

Petr Mores said...

Mr. Gurney, amen, once again. :) I'm enjoying these though-provoking insights of yours as much as the technical advice!