Through Concentrated Breath

making images from memory

Monthly Archives: October 2017

The Rules of Doodling 2

30 October 2017 by Rey Armenteros

So, I made up a few rules on doodling tiny things on a scrap piece of paper, and I centered my rules on there being five loops to a single doodle, arguing that this was the perfect number to represent a human, and I could therefore bring out a face with five such interlocking shapes, or bring out a hand or foot, or a whole body.

Yet, I also had variations on this just so that I could play with a little variety. I had the three-loop doodle and the nine-loop doodle, wondering if there were uses for them that had little to do with humans. Since landscapes were more complex than a human figure, I tried nine loops to get a trace of this form of detail. Though a still life could also be complex, I felt that giving one or more objects nothing but three loops was a way of looking for minimalist forms. I also tried other numbers just to try them.

Eventually, I came up with the idea of the multiple doodle. It would have to be on a larger piece of paper. It was a scrawled image that was made up of one main doodle that tied it all together (perhaps with nine loops, although it could be less). And on top of this foundation I would add a five-loop doodle for every person in the composition. If it was an object, it would need a three-loop doodle. And I was looking for evidence that this might have a practical use when constructing sophisticated compositions.

I suppose you can argue that there is no difference between this and making a sketch or a study for the same purpose, but what I like about the doodle is that it has a great freedom that depends less on planning because the method is not front-loaded with a predicted image.

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The Rules of Doodles I

21 October 2017 by Rey Armenteros

I am a tireless inventor of useless processes, but I firmly believe that in some such throwaway activities, I will find that mound of treasure that can point to new artistic directions.

Doodling could be one of these activities, but recently, I have been adding a certain twist to the meandering drawing you do when your head is not particularly going in any direction. I have been adding rules to my doodles, so that I can play a game as I explore. I’ve been using something I call loops, and I recall this coming about when I was doing variations of the typical spiral one day, not so long ago (when the spiral by itself was not quite sufficient to pass the time). I distorted my spirals, searching for something else, striving for unpredictable ways to get at a drawing that was not a spiral. My goal was to find forms I could place in an asymmetrical choreography, and the rules were my way of destabilizing expectations. Rules or no rules, I was still looking for ways to come up with images from something that was abstract; this was just a different take on that basic idea.

The loops could be any shape including having rectilinear sides, and they can bend in any direction, but a single loop had to stop when it ran into its own loop line, where I would start another loop. And I would try to adhere to these limitations. As an option, it could also stop when encountering another loop if it happened before touching its own line. A loop line could also intersect another loop line and create new shapes in between two or more loops.

When I doodle, I don’t usually have something in mind, but for weeks, I’ve been counting the loops, after having settled on the number five. Even if I did not designate a subject matter, that number of loops does reference something for me because it is based on human qualities. The number five is the human number because we are limited to five senses, we have five fingers on each hand and foot, and we have five limbs if you count the head. So, I would use five loops for every discrete form I would come up with, trying to find a face, a foot, a hand, or a body.

Sometimes I did have something in mind, and if it were a human, I would count the loops anyway. If I tried to bring back a certain old friend I no longer knew, I would think about this person and doodle the five loops without looking at the page, with my eyes fixed on infinity. And when the five loops were over, I would try to find my old acquaintance in the scribble. Then, I would do another one and another one, until I got it right or gave up.

Recently, I’ve been taking these quick doodles and trying to make something of them with a bit of crosshatching and such. I would see a face and then bring it out of the obscurity by finding details, still trying to surprise myself by distorting forms even as I was bringing them out of the linear mire. I was coming up with things suddenly in the wake of having nothing in mind. And this was even more exciting than placing the finishing details on a little gem of a painting.

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Drawing and Painting: A Personal Definition

14 October 2017 by Rey Armenteros

I draw with paint. Though everyone of my pictures from recent years would be classified as a painting, I feel they are mostly drawings in disguise.

A drawing is immediate with little planning. It is a one-sitting enterprise, and the more you deliberate over it, the closer it comes to becoming a painting. A drawing is linear, and it is monochromatic, but it can evolve from there and still be loyal to its upbringing.
A drawing is done with solid colors; there is little subtlety. Titanium White is corporeal in paint mixtures and Zinc White is not; therefore when I use Titanium White, I am drawing, and when I use Zinc White, I am painting. Drawing is like writing. Painting is the propensity to use the surface to make something of it; the skin of a painted portrait could be an actual skin of paint, and the feel of these surfaces connote to the surfaces of other things.

Nevertheless, painting can be ethereal, and drawing is hardly ever ethereal, unless it is alluding to it in some abstract way.

And that is another thing: drawing is provoking a literal reality using the most abstract of devices (namely line and the lack of color), whereas painting is pure abstraction, even if it represents something and even if it does it convincingly.

So, if I begin with abstract clouds in order to get something out of it eventually, I am painting regardless of the tools I am using. If I know what I want to depict, I am drawing.
A calligraphic mark makes me think of drawing. A haze is beyond question an aspect of painting.

When I sit in the studio and am making one or the other, I am always using acrylic paints, and I don’t think about whether I’m making a drawing or a painting. The distinctions come later when I am analyzing the way I go about doing things, when the act of drawing or painting is over.

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