06 September 2015

Thinking Out Loud

Drawing is many things to me, including visual note-taking that has more to do with acquiring information than producing art, a sort of "thinking out loud". Poring over the sketchbooks in preparation for the Pattee Canyon Ladies' Salon annual show, Studies from the Figure, has prompted me to reflect on the process of figure drawing. For me now, this routine sketching is often a form of thinking out loud.

I believe study of the human figure is critical to all image-makers in learning human proportion and presence. There are further technical benefits for those of us who work with the human subject, even expressionistically. But I have qualms about the female nude as decoration. In the history of Euro-American art this decorative use of the female form has served to support deep and enduring notions of women as things, objects to appraise or delight in (or denigrate) solely for their appearance. 

I believe we can celebrate woman's inherent beauty and create images asserting agency in the world. We are subjects with the full complement of human gifts: physical, mental and emotional strength, fertility and other powers, experiencing life with both grace and gracelessness. Though my Salon drawings (according to the studio tradition) often portray women as idle or passive, they are hopefully images that indicate a consciousness and capacity for meaningful engagement.