double vision painting stages

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Hmm … ‘Drawing is putting a line (a)round an idea’  opined Matisse.

I have often used his

‘to sum up,  when I begin a picture, I begin without an idea’

which is admittedly at odds with

‘For me all is in the conception. I must therefore have a clear vision of the whole from the beginning’

which is his better-known one.

Having spent some time working towards the line through painting in the negative shapes only, I have just found a stumbling block.

Today I was instinctively critical of an able artist who had filmed herself making a portrait drawing on Youtube, because once her initial line was traced in, she only ever filled in after that. No corrections, no changes of mind- i.e. no reaction to the work as it progresses. She certainly has a clear vision of the whole from the beginning, but seems to switch off her critical faculties once underway.

Working with such commendable uncertainty and reactivity to the painting, I realised that I am treating the line as sacrosanct, just as the youtube artist did (with 100% ‘likes’ – I’m just saying).

Does the fact that my line is usually derived from a small drawing, with all corrections and pentimenti faithfully carried over into the painting, rather than a photograph (nothing left to decide) make enough difference?

I do make decisions about whether to keep, move or lather lines as I paint up to them, and again when painting round them in subsequent stages, but I am ‘pre-cutout’, not facing the line/colour(infill) tension. I asked self-importantly on this site whether I was drawing or painting, but that might have been the wrong question ….


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