drawing lines + risking things

I’d an idea a few days ago and thought ‘That might just work, I’ll give it a go…
And so the last few days have been spent trying to make this idea and see if it will work or look as cool as I imagined it might look.

It can be hard to have an idea  sometimes as the point when you see it in your head or imagine what it might look like, or the ideal way it would sound, or the ideal way it might come out is the best that it’s going to get. When you try to make the thing it usually looks nothing like you imagined in your head, or it sounds crap, or looks rubbish,  or won’t work.

Or maybe it would work if you kept at it or tried again and took your mistakes aboard and got help.

But sometimes you just get fed up because it was another example of something you tried hard to make work that didn’t work out the way you planned and all those hours you spent fiddling at it and trying to be careful and this mess or that song you don’t like is what you have to show for your work. It can be disheartening.

One of the main ways it goes wrong is in not knowing when to stop. You might have something you think is OK or at home with but then you think ‘Ah, but it could be better if I added this….‘ and before you know it you’ve gone too far and messed it up. You added too much paint, you’ve not taken enough care, or you just  didn’t care and just added something random and now it’s a pigs ear. G.K Chesterton is supposed to have said

‘Art, like morality, consists in drawing the line somewhere.’

Is drawing the line the hardest part?

But on the other hand if we don’t ‘risk it for a biscuit‘ or if we settle for not taking risks and having a go then perhaps that is worse? I always think (and get a bit freaked out) by the parable of the talents and how the master treats the servant who buried his talents and played it safe.

This song covered by The Unthanks has been stuck in my head as well.

It’s about a man and his prized pigeon who he risks on big race from Rome.

‘There was gonna be a champions’ race from Italy
“Look at the maps, all that land and sea
Charlie, you’ll lose that bird”
But Charlie never heard
He put it in a basket and sent it off to Rome
On the day o’ the big race a storm blew in
A thousand birds were swept away and never seen again
“Charlie we told you so
Surely by now you know
When you’re living in the West End there ain’t many dreams come true”
“Yeah, I know, but I had to try
A man can crawl around or he can learn to fly
And if you live ’round here
The ground seems awful near
Sometimes I need a lift from victory”‘

the medium is the message + glass + drawing

This whole ‘medium is the message’  train of thought has been making me think the last couple of days and mainly in relation to drawing and sketching.
First up, I’m not really sure that I understand the phrase in the first place but its fun to play away with anyway…

Secondly, over the last couple 0f years have found it increasingly hard to draw or doodle.
There seems to be a couple of components to this.

Number One, I increasingly find it hard to ‘see’ what to draw.
It’s not that my eye sight is ‘failing’, yet in another sense it has been.

What if using this laptop (my poison of choice)  has been training my eyes to ‘see’ in a certain way that makes it harder to draw when out in the open air or focusing on a vase of tulips?

When someone uses the laptop for hours on end their eyes are  focused on a glass rectangle no more than a few feet away, a glass rectangle that is spewing out light and bright constantly.

Hour after hour, day after day, year after year focused on a rectangle of light no more than a few feet away with your head neither turning left or right.

Does this type of daily exercise train our eyes in certain habits and ways of expecting to see?

For instance if go into Belfast to do some drawing will my eye automatically try to see the world of Belfast in a rectangle shape,no more than a few feet away and slightly pointed downwards? Will it be harder to see the things outside that square and take more effort to concentrate on them?

The other thing to say is that using a lap top trains your hands and fingers in certain movements, especially if you only use a touchpad mouse and keys.

Generally you can rest the bottom of your wrists on the laptop and leave them there for hours on end and still do your work. It requires very little movements, and any movement there is tends to be back and forth jabby little movements.

If you use a laptop for hours on end, day after day, year after year then your hand movements will be trained in certain ways that will come into play if you go to doodle or sketch. For instance drawing longer lines from your elbow may seem like a foreign world because you don’t really use that movement much. When you pick up your pen the pen marks will probably start reflecting your hand movements when using a computer.

Back to seeing the world. If the medium is the message, what sort of message does glass give?
This has only hit me but glass is the common medium of the digital screen. PC’s, Apples, ipads, mobile phones, TV’s. And of course its there in our cars and buildings, glasses etc.
It’s like the medium that we don’t notice but is always there. I actually have a good example of this from where I’m writing this.

  My window is open and around the edges I can the world unfiltered through glass and filtered through glass.

At the top of my window there is a gap where I see a starling with a beak full off worms for the nest. The sky behind it is blue, an outdoor blue.
Directly below it through the glass of the window the sky is blue but slightly less blue. It seems to a different sort of light coming through the window and the are specks of dirt and bird poo from the starling nest on the window.

The thing that is noticeable though is that my eye seems to be automatically drawn to look through the glass and window at the outside world. Partly this is because it takes more effort to raise my head a bit and look through the gap, but also because the level of light coming through the window seems more in keeping of what I expect from the world I inhabit and naturally suits my eye.
My eye almost expects to see things through windows, glass and screens like that is the natural world.

In one way it seems easier to see things to draw when looking out a window at the natural world, like in a coffee shop out on to a street that in drawing in the open air.

Another aspect about drawing is that when it comes to looking at the paper my eye is in another foreign world.
Paper does not look glassy like a computer or mobile phone screen, the sort of light involved is different and my eyes feel like they are working harder to use it. It’s another unatural world.

This has come into play when it comes to reading novels. A few years ago I read novels but now I find my brain can’t concentrate properly and gets tired a few pages in. Originally I put this down to using the www too much and flicking from one web page to another.
But what if its not the flicking around on the www so much, but the glass on the digital screens that make it ‘harder’ work to read a book? Perhaps that is why the Kindle is so popular. Not that you can store all your books on it, but that it’s more in tune with the message our eye and brain, hands and fingers have been picking up the last number of years?