Imprint: A rapid learning process by which [an artist] establishes a behavior pattern of recognition and attraction to another animal or an object (artistic license generously applied)
Drawing is like that, for me. The translation of an object or a face or a scene from eye to paper or canvas leaves a permanent impression in my artist mind – an imprint. The work I’m currently doing in my studio is like this.
I’m working on a series of painting/drawings about simple tools: Shovel Axe Hammer Pencil clamp wrench etc – things in common use as extensions of our physical needs – to garden, clear, build, keep warm (firewood), communicate and figure out.
Simple tho it may seem, the shapes and planes in a shovel (this one is a spade) are as complex as those of a human face – especially since I’m drawing an old one that still shows it’s history – mortar, rust, paint. As I draw I’m amazed at how specific each slope is to the function of the tool. If I were an anthropologist examining this object 2000 years from now I could easily discern it’s use – the shape speaks.
But I know more than she, because this is MY spade I’m drawing, and I have physical memory of using it:
Digging digging, hitting rock, finding the rock’s edges, then straining the long ash handle to lever out great slabs of limestone, great chunks of granite. There is no bottom to this pile of soil – I’m down through four feet of strata – weeds, topsoil, clay – all of it growing rocks for harvest. Loosen roots, turn soil, break solid clods with the back of the spade – whack, whack, clunk.
Right foot bruised on the push edge of the spade, fingers slippery with mud, knees and boots caked and heavy, face smeared – I am utterly content.
Shift to my studio. My face and clothing is smeared with charcoal and paint. I am barefoot, staring staring at this painting I collaborate with.
Now at my draughting table, write, sketch, play cards- anything to catch the next right decision out of the corner of my eye – then leap up in the aha moment to make an adjustment, addition, or big sweeping change. I am utterly engaged, utterly content.
The next painting is an axe.
I’ll keep you posted.