Auberge Ferme, July 2013
Afternoon in Peyégas, France
“I cannot draw”. You get to hear this quite often when you talk to friends or strangers about drawing and sketching. Of course, they all know how to use a pencil, and how to draw a line. But what they think they see is not what they get on the paper. Often, they expect a photographic copy of a particular object, appearing on paper; dimensions right, perspective correct, details there, colors properly set.
I usually tell them that (maybe) what they get on paper is exactly what they see. Quite often, it is code. And some details popping out of the code.
Code: The way I see a dog
Normally, in everyday life, we tend to see the world around us through a code filter. We do not have to look into a dog`s look in all detail, analyze its fur, its eye colors, the proportions of the legs, the length of the tongue, in order to ”see” a dog. The photographic copy arriving from our eyes, through an ingeniously wired apparatus made of biomolecules, is processed, compared with existing shortcuts, codes, and moved forward, allowing us to “see” a dog, and a tree, and houses, cars. It is quite a computing effort that happens there, and basically, in everyday life, we move through a world of code that we create, constantly.
So basically, when drawing, we face the challenge not to draw the lines of the code, but to pass by the code, maybe coming up with a “different” code. We want to make sure that we look closer. A dog’s nose is not a black nob. It comes with a structure, turtle leather like. It might be bright and reflecting the light if wet, it might come in shades of brown… And, on the other hand, we might want to make sure that we do not get lost in details, when leaving the world of code. Thus, it is always a good idea to search for the “dominant” lines (or contrasts or shapes or colors) within a scene: Going from big to small.
A simple trick in order to see less through code is to simply cut a view into areas of similar brightness, to search for parallel lines, or to search for repeating geometric forms, like triangles.
Thus, for me, sketching is seeing, through a different algorithm. Trying to go beyond the code of things that I trained my brain to see. Seeing, for instance, can mean that grass is not green, but comes in shades of blue, or red. It might mean that details that I “see” are actually not really there; they hide in shadow or missing contrast. Sometimes, seeing means realizing that things are not really visible, even if you “see” them.
Creating perfumes is comparable; you have to learn smelling the world again, trying to see behind the code of things smelling, going beyond the memories of things smelled in the past, and leaving concepts and constructs. I guess this is true for all art.
When I started sketching, I was always very worried about the result not reflecting my expectations and not reflecting reality. I guess I learned that it does not matter and that reality does not really exist for us, mostly. We live in a prison of code, and we can only break out in singular moments trying to see behind the code. And whenever we paint and sketch and draw and write and compose: this creative cut might be a little singular moment where there is the opportunity to leave the code.
Sketching the farmhouse in France, an auberge ferme (a farm with 3 guest rooms, offering bed and food and the natural environment of a French farm, and the company of a couple working on their dream), after arriving later in the afternoon, was such a singular moment. I was sort of tired, after a day on the bike. The farm was on top of a pretty high hill, very isolated, with no other house in the area, with the farm house overlooking a pasture that was laid out like an amphitheater, encircled by dark fir trees, the farm still in bright sunlight, but the shadows growing longer and longer.
I loved the light in this particular moment, me sitting in the shadow opposite the farmhouse. There was the warmth of the day, the tranquility of the location, the brightness that was so special, the sound of the uncounted insects dancing in the afternoon sun. The peace of knowing that there is the bed up there promising relaxation after a sportive day, and the feeling of being welcome. I looked into this scene and tried to “see” the light for an hour.
– Andy Tauer