Baudelaire and Drawing / by Jeannine Cook

Charles Baudelaire, who prided himself on his abilities as an art critic, wrote a fascinating description of his concept of drawing for the 1855 Universal Exhibition in Paris. He said, "A good drawing is not a hard, despotic, motionless line enclosing a form like a strait jacket. Drawing should be like nature, living and reckless... nature shows us an endless series of curved, fleeting, broken lines, according to an unerring law of generation, in which parallels are always undefined and meandering, and concaves and convexes correspond to and pursue one another."

I was thinking about this definition of drawing today as I sat on a dock in the late soft afternoon breezes and tried to capture cloud formations as they waxed and waned in endless energy. Only by letting go of conscious thoughts and just trying to work the eye-hand connection could I get down anything that captured the endlessly majestic procession of the clouds. It was just as Baudelaire described the process of drawing.