After collecting so many images, impressions and ideas in India, I knew that I wanted to start drawing again. I wanted to explore what was in my head, and what was still in front of me, with my pencil; I wanted to make something appear on paper as a result of it all. I had some vague ideas at the start about 'getting my hand back'; something about restoring/improving hand/eye coordination, so that I could have better control, make images that were what I wanted, rather than vague approximations of what I wanted or could see.
I'm not denying that the technical, 'skill' elements that this way of thinking represents are important. But I see so many people who are stuck in the cultural web of these ideas, who are unable to see beyond 'improving their technique', that I find myself noticing every movement towards or away from this idea in myself. Over the last few days, it's become clearer that I'm not drawing to improve my hand/eye coordination at all.
I can imagine thinking of it like this, and as I imagine it I feel immediately how that thought closes down what I'm doing. The focus then becomes accuracy - is that line exactly like that, at that angle? Is that tone precisely rendered on the paper as it is in what I'm looking at? I realise that, in fact, I'm drawing to become acquainted with something. I'm drawing to know it, to understand it, to see it. I'm also drawing as a form of collecting; of gathering shapes and lines and patterns and forms. And I'm drawing to see and feel how different media make contact with the paper, and to notice how I feel when I see them appear in their different ways.
This morning I'm studying the shapes and patterns made by plans and cross-sections of early cave temples from the 2nd and 3rd century BC. And as I trace out their forms, I find myself reaching for darker and darker, softer and smudgier materials. There's no thought or intention in this, it's a visceral response to an idea I don't even realise I'm registering - that the shapes and forms I'm tracing are cut out of rock, and that if you entered in to these spaces, there would be no natural light at all. They would be dark and silent. The black stone would throw back any sound you made as an echo, and the sounds of the birds outside would echo off the rock...
With this approach, it's actually pretty much incidental how the lines or marks or smudges on the page end up looking.