“Neither style nor form, in their essence, are derived from convention; they always must be, and are, created anew, and establish and follow their own laws. It is undeniable that certain period–and the most fortunate ones–have established clearly defined patterns or standards which give the artist a basis on which to create freely. Our own is not one of these; today the individual is obliged to discover his own language before he has completed the master of it. Where such standards exist, however, they retain their vitality only as long as they are in the process of development. After this process has stopped they wither and die and can be re-created only by a conscious and essentially artificial effort, since they are produced by unique and unrecoverable impulse, and are suited only to the content which has grown with them.”
~Roger Sessions: The Composer and His Message
I am intrigued by this quote and the dichotomy between the need for the form (or style) to emerge organically from the content of a work of art and the value of established patterns or standards which serve as a base from which the artists can operate. The dominant langue of art-making during my undergraduate education was of “finding your unique voice or visual vocabulary.” I love making art in this way–responding to my materials and discovering a unique vocabulary through constant making. However, it is a daunting task to be asked to create a language while seeking to master the seemingly infinitely possibility of various media. I wonder if the strength of early modern art is a result of the established patterns they were operating out of, and in many cases rejecting. They were artists who were educated in the traditional schools of thought and from that basis set about to free art and find their own vision and a suitable language for it. Now there is no dominant standard to respond to, whether positively or negatively and all art exists in a free for all to be passively accepted or rejected. This is something I intend to continue mulling over.
“There is a certain kind of penmanship made in schools which seems to draw around the letters of a word like a wire, and there is another kind of penmanship, much more human, that seems to be the word.
…Don’t become a victim of line.”
~Robert Henri from The Art Spirit
Find a way to make lines express what you see. Lines are not how nature expresses herself, they are a notational system for recording the experience of seeing. Properly employing that system is one of the primary concerns of drawing.