The Lines progressed by Jeannine Cook

Well, the line-making slowly progressed on my Dendrobium Delight drawing in graphite and I eventually declared an end. By this time, the flower buds had opened and everything had moved around in the usual dynamic way nature has of reminding one who "rules".

Dendrobium Delight, graphite, Jeannine Cook artist

Dendrobium Delight, graphite, Jeannine Cook artist

Yet the act of drawing made me reflect on how any drawing is really a voyage into ourselves, to bring out we know not quite what, ahead of time. As that wonderfully thoughtful artist, Luisa Rabbia, remarked about artists in general: "In the end, we all talk about life, death, time and our presence on Earth." This became even more pertinent a remark for me, for while I was drawing, I was listening to Senator Ted Kennedy's memorial service on television and reflecting on his life and the many acts of quiet kindness and compassion. As Placido Domingo sang Panis Angelicus, with Yo-Yo Ma accompanying him so sonorously on the 'cello, the beauty of the music seemed to flow into my pencils as I drew. Susan Graham's wonderfully serene Ave Maria was balm to the soul - it must have seemed so to the countless people listening around the world as well as in the spacious Basilica.

This drawing of the vibrant Dendrobium will, I know from other experiences I have had when painting or drawing, now always evoke for me this time of music, celebration and mourning for Ted Kennedy. Resquiescat in pace.

A Progression of Lines by Jeannine Cook

These hot, humid days make staying at home in air-conditioned coherence very attractive. This means that all of a sudden, I find that my "eye" spots potential drawings or paintings in places I normally don't expect. It is the bonus of quiet days at home mid-summer, I have learned.

Today's bonus was a beautiful dendrobium that obligingly reblooms on a regular basis - it has produced elegant, shapely flowers, but at the gravity-defying angles that hallmark my dendrobiums. Staking them, greenhouse fashion, doesn't seem to work for me! As I sat listening to music and starting to do a graphite drawing of the flowers and strange stem, I kept thinking back to remarks I had read by Luisa Rabbia when she was being interviewed in Art in America after her Residency at the Isabella Gardiner Museum in Boston. Talking about drawing, she said "Drawing is for me a way of writing, recording moments, the passing of time ... you change ideas so many times when you are working, and I like that. I start from something and never know where I am going to."

Prima della tempesta, 2006, certosa di Padula, Luisa Rabbia,  (Image courtesy of the artist)

Prima della tempesta, 2006, certosa di Padula, Luisa Rabbia,  (Image courtesy of the artist)

It is true. I find the same thing. I might start drawing, say, the dendrobium, but by the time I have worked for a while, the flowers I am depicting not only have changed themselves, but I had also added, subtracted, moved and generally altered things substantially. I draw for a while, then stop and make a cup of tea... the perfect way then to return to the drawing with a fresher eye, to assess a little where I am going, what needs next to be done. The original idea that sparked the drawing is still there in its core, but the drawing itself has taken hold of my initial passion and made it its own.

Luisa Rabbia was accurate and eloquent about drawing - "A drawing itself is a record of the development of an idea. You change ideas so many times.... For me, the shape of each line is determined by the shape of the preceding line and determines the shape of the following line. There is this progression of lines, thoughts and moments." It does not really matter what you are drawing - a landscape, an abstract, a still life or a flower... the process of drawing seems to follow the same progression and development. The drawing medium does not alter this process either. As Luisa also remarked, line "is like breathing". One line falls naturally into place after the previous one, almost involuntarily, until suddenly, a little voice inside one's head says "stop" and you know that you have reached the end of that particular drawing journey.

Fascinating and addictive, this drawing process...