This is a drawing by my old art teacher/mentor, John Arthur Williams. John drew this in the front page of a sketchbook he gave me as a gift. (The sketchbook had crappy binding but the drawing survives excellently.)
John taught me and my fellow students most of the artistic philosophy that bubbles out of me occasionally, and which in fact contributed to the guiding ethos of this site — the idea that not everything has to be great, the idea that you can get a certain energy and liveliness from just letting your pen or pencil glide across the paper with no aim in mind. And it came so easily to him — watching him draw was like watching a photograph develop.
John was the one who used to crumple up sheets of blank paper and throw them across the room, saying “Don’t be afraid to waste paper. It’s cheap.”
Looking through my files I am pleased to notice that I still have lots of snippets of notes and inspirational bits he gave me over the years:
A reoccurring thought, one that frightens me, has continued to run through my mind of late. It is: that I really don’t know how to paint.
When I look at my better works, it’s occurred to me that, were I asked, “How did you do that?” or “What method did you use to execute this?” I would have to answer that I do not know. Even when I begin a new work and I ask these questions of myself, (this is when it is most frustrating) I am faced with the same dilemma, even to the point of having of having to pull my own originals from the walls in order to see what I might have done to bring it off! Amazing, really—but I think that is really how it should be if the process of creation is at its peak. The process should really be unconscious. You should be unaware of yourself in the process; try to let the subject lead you. That’s when it becomes exciting!
So what if I never discover what I did in the last painting that worked?
You can see more of John’s work at his website, here.