They say it’s all in the detail, they say it’s where the devil dwells. For me I’ve been both running away from and inextricably attracted to detail for as long as I can remember. Detail, detail, detail. A small curse on my life, one of the things that tears my head apart. I hate detail you see, I’m a slave to it, captured by each swirl and curl, layer upon layer, caught up in the capture of reality.
When I started to draw, which was before I could speak, there was no detail in what I scribbled. Detail was not important, it was all about the movement of the crayons on the paper, the colours, the act of doing it. I didn’t care what I was drawing or if it looked like anything, I was drawing and that was the important thing. Of course later, after years of being asked what I was drawing (‘What’s it meant to be?’) I realized that the act of drawing wasn’t enough – what I laid down on the paper had to LOOK like something. People expected it and imagination wasn’t enough. From thereon it was all downhill.
I became fixated on making the images I drew look like what I saw. I stopped drawing from my head and convinced myself that you should draw what you see as accurately as possible. Of course I wasn’t very good at it and with that came disillusionment with my attempts. There was always something wrong, the line of that hill not quite in the right place, that beak not quite the right shape, ten thousand leaves on that tree when I had only managed nine. I poured over the Old Masters, Breugel, Dali, the Hyperrealists and could only wonder at how they made their paintings reflect reality in their various ways. Of course it was about draughtsmanship, technique and execution and I wanted some of that, but I could never quite do it. Then one day I realised that I was chasing something I could never attain and with that the devil was almost gone.
I wish could still see with the purity of a three-year old, but even when I scribble it’s as if that detail devil is still guiding my hand. Anyway, here’s a scribble I did today. What is it? Look closely, I’m sure that you can decode it.