Frederick Franck's Ten Commandments of Seeing/Drawing

Frederick Franck’s Ten Commandments of Seeing/Drawing

“There is no other valid reason for drawing than the awareness of the eye awakening from its half-sleep.  There is — I am convinced — no other good reason for art . . .”
— Frederick Franck, from The Awakened Eye, 1979

I would like to do a better job following the First Commandment, to make art everyday.  Here is today’s bouquet of sweet peas:

Watercolor painting of sweet peas

Watercolor painting of sweet peas

 

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More from Frederick Franck’s The Awakened Eye:

“Instead of the pleasures of so-called ‘self-expression,’ you will discover a greater one:  the joy of letting a leaf, a branch, express itself, its being, through you.”

An iris so purple, it's black.

An iris so purple, it’s black.

Watercolor sketch of iris using paper from France (Moulin a Papier de Provence)

Watercolor sketch of iris using paper from France (Moulin a Papier de Provence)

” . . . seeing — for instance — what it is to be a blade of grass.  Or rather: that a blade of grass does not exist — that only this particular blade of grass exists; and that ‘a’ man, ‘a’ woman are figments of the imagination, only this particular man or woman is real.  Drawing the Ten Thousand Things is a way of loving, of being in love with life by seeing each thing in its singularity.”

Kitty's iris garden on Samish Island

Kitty’s iris garden on Samish Island

Imagine drawing ten thousand things, starting with each of these irises in Kitty’s garden.  This reminds me of the so-called 10,000 hour rule for mastery.  I agree that in order to become a better painter, I need to work more regularly, even daily.  But with my choppy “paid” work schedule, I seem to repeatedly grind to a halt.  I am constantly starting again.  This is my particular challenge these days.

I am always happier when my day includes some drawing or painting.  Here is a good way to look at my efforts:  “Measure your life in the number of times you do things.  When you die: are you 2 writing sessions old?  Or are you 50,000?”  —  James Altucher, from “The Only Technique to Learn Something New”

The singularity of this particular iris

The singularity of this particular iris

 

 

Pen-and-ink sketch of Queen Anne’s Lace in my Moleskin journal

“This was a big theme, and one I could confidently do:  the infinite variety of nature. . . . Van Gogh was aware of that, when he said that he had lost the faith of his fathers, but somehow found another in the infinity of nature.  It’s endless.  You see more and more.  When we were first here, the hedgerows seemed a jumble to me.  But then I began to draw them in a little Japanese sketchbook that opened out like a concertina.  J-P was driving, and I’d say ‘Stop!’, and then draw different kinds of grass.  I filled the sketchbook in an hour and a half.  After that, I saw it all more clearly.  After I’d drawn the grasses, I started seeing them.”
— David Hockney, from A Bigger Message: Conversations with David Hockney by Martin Gayford

Walking amidst a prairie of Queen Anne’s Lace at the Union Bay Natural Area in Seattle

When I was walking the loop trail of the Union Bay Natural Area amidst the Queen Anne’s Lace, I remembered an image of David Hockney’s drawings of hedgerow weeds that I had seen in A Bigger Message: Conversations with David Hockney by Martin Gayford.  So I checked the book out from the library again to refresh my memory.

Pen and ink sketch of Queen Anne’s Lace inspired by David Hockney’s drawings of hedgerow weeds

Now that my watercolor exhibit is up, I plan to go back to sketching and painting in my Moleskin journals, and my first project was capturing the lacy beauty of the Queen Anne’s Lace I saw on my walk.  The variety was amazing.  When I looked more closely, I saw that the little dark spot on the top of the white florets was not an insect, but was one miniature purple flower.  I’d never noticed that before. (Thanks, Wil, for pointing that out!)

One purple floret atop the Queen Anne’s Lace

Queen Anne’s lace pierced by a tall grass

The infinite variety of nature