Monday, June 06, 2011

On Drawing | Corresponding with Yourself


In a letter to my dear friend Christopher I found myself sharing, at length, my motivations for revisiting drawing as part of my studio practice.


As I am nudging my career in a direction that feels good to me, I am realising that drawing will be central to my success. The very best and most successful clothing and costume designers in film, theatre, fashion, art, whatever - they all draw very beautifully. And as a tool, drawing holds such power. With a few simple tools and some paper an artist can share his vision and fully realize a range of ideas, feelings, and creative aspirations without spending a dollar or sewing a stitch.

And now, months later I have been working hard to maintain that rhythm by drawing daily if possible – and as often as I can from a live model. The pleasures of a more liberated studio practice are great. Having the time and space for this sort of thing sets my mind free and gives me a reason to continue studying the body and consequently finding new ways to decorate it – cover it – celebrate it.

Drawing has always been central to me and how I work. When I can’t say it, I can draw it. And if you ask my mother her point of view on this one, I know she would be quick to say that I “was born with a red crayon in my hand.” She’s right, I think I was.


By the time I made my way into undergraduate art school, I made a point of drawing as often as I possibly could. I loaded my schedule with every drawing class available, and when I wasn’t in class I would head back into the studio to draw more. Figure drawing in particular played – and continues to play a huge role in how I work.


For the past many years as I devoted myself to developing and building my menswear label, I found the time I was able to devote to drawing became less and less. At best I would keep a sketchbook – and even those ran dry for a period while I juggled fabric orders, wrangled patterns, coordinated events, and most importantly sold clothes. Each of those things has its merit and surely brought wonderful things into my life – but ultimately I still feel there is very little that is quite as satisfying and drawing.


My dear friend and truly skilled artist Kimberly Trowbridge had reminded me not so long ago that drawing is perhaps the most inherently honest thing we can do. With drawing there is no fooling. Such a simple equation – our hands, a drawing tool, and a piece of paper – yield incredibly pure results. We can’t fake it and we need not bother to try, because what comes of the process of drawing is so beautifully true to what we are seeing and how we are feeling that each and every mark should be celebrated and revered.


I’m now drawing two or three nights a week, and my sketchbooks fill quickly in the hours between. By giving myself permission (an invaluable thing that all too often we seem to take from ourselves) I feel the freedom to draw without restraint and without edit. I use affordable papers and simple tools because the drawings that come from it all are not what this is about – I’m investing in the process of drawing and the work happens there. The drawing is a document of it all.

2 Comments:

Blogger Mr. C said...

I just may share this post with my students. The phrasing "corresponding with yourself" makes perfect sense to the writer as artist. I'm always asking that my students treat their notebooks as a place to figure things out, to think on the page, and this post makes all sorts of sense in that regard.

5:10 AM  
Blogger dana said...

I really enjoyed this post Michael. Thanks for sharing this. I just recently started drawing regularly again which I haven't done since art school and it has been so amazing to have this back in my life.

The last drawing in this post has beautiful movement to it!

Did I see a sign in the window of your old studio for figure drawing meetups?

8:47 PM  

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