I’ve created a gallery here for the drawings of The “Man of La Mancha” series, alternatively titled “A.K.A. Don Quixote”. Which is also the working title for a Kickstarter.com project. More on that later.
Drawing is thinking.
Let’s look at these drawings. The “Leaving La Mancha” paintings were all preceeded by drawing.
Not as in making a drawing and then making a painting from the drawing, but as in thinking through possibilities first by drawing. Just letting your pencil run where the mind goes.
It’s like the classic contour drawing exercise where you fix your eye on a point on an object, and your pencil on the page. Imagine that your pencil is touching the object at exactly the point that your eye is focused on, and without looking at the paper move the pencil as your eye moves, never losing that exact same contact point: your pencil is touching where your eye is focused. The point of the exercise is not to make that drawing a beautiful drawing worth keeping, but to develop your eye-hand coordination. It is the equivalent of an athlete running drills. You do it so that when you are in the moment when it matters you will have the skills to do the job without having to stop and think.
Back to the analogy: You want your pencil to move in sync with what the mind’s eye is seeing just as your pencil touches what your eye sees in the contour drawing lesson. A doodle, if you will, but a doodle with self awareness. On steroids. With a mission.
Taking my cue from a love of cubism, I began sketching basic shapes of a guy on a horse, using a funky little welded nuts & nails sculpture of Don Q., and Picasso’s famous sketch or drawing or print, whatever it is, as a disembarkation point.
As I drew in the lines and shapes of the sculpture, I assembled simple forms representing parts of the figure & horse, and then reassembled them slightly disjointed so they had the appearance of being put together in the back yard with chunks of wood, pieces of tin and balling wire.
This is the earliest drawing I in the group, and in tit you can see how the shapes have been identified, then simplified and exaggerated.
I chose a drawing by Watteau of country houses on a lane, abstracted, as the setting for our protagonist. The abstraction was adapted to fit the drawing of D.Q.: the buildings on the left edge curve upward to complete the arch from the horse’s head up to the spear and helmet, then down to the tail. Those buildings also connect in a line through the back of the horse to the tree in the upper right, forming half on an “X” composition, completed on the other half by the line from the tip of the spear down through the saddle and belly to the end of the leg, lower right. The horizontal line of the street and the legs splayed out like saw-horses anchor a drawing of swirling lines and diagonals in every direction that could easily go top-heavy and be unsettling.
The simplified shapes of the horse’s head, chest and tail ( which is really not even a shape, just lines), just like D.Q.’s helmet, face and the arm and hand holding the spear, have been drastically simplified. Abstracted though they may be, every shape in the drawing is still representative of some thing.