Saturday, May 11, 2013

Calligraphic Shorthand

Williams is a master of calligraphic shorthand. No extra lines, no extra brushstrokes - only the absolute essential, and he knows how to get an amazing amount of mileage out of the essential. He makes each line say an incredible amount - carrying loads of information all at the same time - similar to the way a symbolic image in a dream can carry amazing amounts of information on many fronts at once. 

This carries through into his painting as well. My thinking is that it originates from gesture sketching. That's where an artist learns to express himself rapidly and forcefully with the bare minimum of time and mark-making. I marvel at the way he depicted the buildings in the image above. So rapidly done, and yet so expressive of complexity without being at all labored. It looks like he made his decisions almost instantly (sometimes I;m sure that's not true). Just by changing tone or color slightly he suggests plane breaks or breaks between slabs of material - all appearing time-etched and grungy. Everything also has an organic feel to it - straight lines aren't actually straight, but we never question that because it's clear it's an artist's rendering and needn't be perfectified as long as it looks good. I need to break free of my current slavery to perfectification (though it's mainly just because I'm doing my classical period right now - the classical places an emphasis on imitating nature and on detail). As I gain experience and facility Ill be able to start working faster and make my choices more rapidly. 

When he does environments it's clear that they're sort of an extension of the figure - the figure is always primary in his world. This is another indication that's he's an artist who derives most of his technique from gestural sketching.

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