Some thoughts on drawing and painting

Guest post by Dee Jenkins

I think drawing and painting demand a certain kind of faith, a willingness to believe that bearing with the processes involved will eventually lead to a worthwhile outcome. If I didn’t hold that view, I don’t think I could tolerate the inevitable frustrations and disappointments that occur along the way.

When I work, I repeat a sequence of actions over and over again on the same surface. There are two phases in the sequence; one is analytical and intellectual, and the other is driven by interior sensations and needs. I used to think the phases were in conflict with each other in a negative way, but I have come to see the conflict as positive and critical even, because the tension it creates can eventually lead to a surprising and gratifying resolution well worth the time and effort involved.

Such a process, however, demands an endless evaluation and re-evaluation of pictorial elements, including the elements of a picture’s dimensions and edges. It was Giacometti who gave me permission to think of them this way, despite the fact that in most of my art classes I had been instructed to take the dimensions one starts out with as a given. Watching a dog “make its bed” also gave me permission, since before deciding on the right space in which to settle in and settle down, a dog will thoroughly investigate an area; go here, go there, circle around, dig things up, pat things down, etc., just as I like to do (sort of) before I can settle in and settle down within a pictorial space that feels comfortable.

Jazz, Latin, and Tango have all enriched my visual education, as have art and artists from both past and present. Best case scenario: there is music in what I do, and a rhythmic connection between the parts and the whole of every picture. It is frequently the “mistakes” I make as I work that lead me in the most unexpected and exciting directions, and any idea I start out with has by the end, been transformed into something very different from my initial intention. The process of creating an image is ultimately a mystery, and it may be one that is better left unsolved.


Dee Jenkins is a painter, and retired professor, County College of Morris, New Jersey.

One response to “Some thoughts on drawing and painting

  1. Charlotte Loveless

    Gwen thank you for sharing this with me. I like it so much Im passing it along to an accomplished painter with whom Ive had many discussions and from whom l’ve received inspiration.

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