I open the door to my studio like Kafka's K opens doors in The Trial. Stacks of papers, newspaper clippings, sketches, and notes, walls outlined by paint where paper had been stapled and its surface prepared for drawing, tables and chairs covered with layers of charcoal, pastel and dust, the surface of which disturbed by hand, arm or foot prints, and a labyrinth of boxes and tools to sort through.
In open sketchbooks I discover ink spots covering fully developed sketches and slow, meaningless meandering lines drawn over intense thumbnails as evidence I had fallen asleep and where, without a missing a beat, unconsciously, I continued to hack out a beginning. To begin the work means deciphering its beginnings. I wonder if I only think I make progress on a drawing but in fact I am only trying to find its beginnings.
I don't finish drawings, I exhaust the possibilities in each rendering. I revise and rework and more than likely destroy drawings. I draw until the figure and the environment have a visual weight (a plasticity) and can carry a narrative. I draw until I find a hook that sustains my viewing for more than a couple of days. If that hook doesn't last, then I go back to revising. Whatever began the drawing – the studies, the images from my boxes - is started again when I pick up my piece of charcoal. Because the mark is not the idea. I have to battle what making that mark means. Does it define the outside or the inside of the object? Is it defining a texture, a contour, or a tone?
Since most of us have mark making down, we think it's automatic. At its fundamental level, a drawing is a progressively complex listing of strokes. Nothing more. To assume that you can express anything before controlling and manipulating the material is ridiculous.
That's not to say that you don't have a start. You have plenty of starts, plenty of ideas, but once you are on the paper it's a whole different game. To begin the work means deciphering its beginnings. I wonder if I only think I make progress on a drawing but in fact I am only trying to find its beginnings.