by Jay Noble
Drawing is at the core of my creative philosophy.
One ceases to draw the moment one ceases to draw fresh insight into the prevailing order. Perhaps this is why it seems
so impossible to finish drawing…
It has been important for me not to confuse the one who draws with the draftsman, the illustrator, or even the skilled
imitator. Although, drawing cannot, in every case, exclude these from it’s domain.
I draw and paint from perception. This requires the sensual presence of an object or objects in space, and involves habits
of mind which influence the way drawings look. Drawing from perception makes the way I see visible. With this I am
able to explore, critique, and expand the capacity of my perception.
I do this by welcoming criticism and studying paintings by others. I do not isolate my mind to the four corners of my skull.
I draw from master works as often as I draw from nature and memory. I am especially interested in drawing from perceptual
conditions which predate our own, many of which endure into our own time.
One should not be too literal. Painting does not require paint. Painting is a clumsy metaphor for a kind of magic that
can happen nearly anywhere and in nearly any material. Although I do think it requires the psychological apprehension of “the
picture plane,“ and the contradiction of trying to depict space and form on that (non-literal) surface. Perhaps this
contradiction is where the magic starts.
The best way to learn about painting, for us mortals, is to practice it. I once read a book on yoga and thought I understood
it… HA! - fool that I am.
While I draw regularly from the human figure, from still life, from master paintings, and from memory, the subjects I am
most often drawn to are complex and outdoors, such as large trees, bamboo, foliage, and rolling water. I do not know whether
these subjects are significant or if simply being sensually near to them makes painting tolerable.
A lack of sensual intelligence is a major contemporary problem; too many intellectuals badly in need of intelligence. Of
course, I too am one of these intellectuals.
Drawing is a cultured language in that it has to be learned. It is not a talent, and impossible to decode without long
term deliberate study. Be reminded of how hard it was to learn a new foreign language, just to get basic conversation skills,
and the doubts about ever achieving fluency. If you made it this far think of the work it then took to begin to actually think
in that new language and of the surprise of dreaming for the first time in that new language . . . let alone make art with
Drawing forces humility because one must try for an impossibility. If you prefer to avoid humiliation, don’t draw!
I envy the amateurs who paint because they love it. At times I also envy those who do not seem to need painting. However,
I am somewhat leery of the dispassionate professional. I paint because I literally get sick if I don’t. It feels like
an addiction, but I prefer to think of it as a calling, a vocation. I liken myself to Jonah in this respect. For me, painting
has been a spiritual compulsion that I cannot avoid without finding myself inside something very like that awful whale. On
the bright side, it is one of the few things in which I find real joy.