Saturday, April 14, 2018


I love this very cool drawing of a tyrannosaurus rex by Ike, age 6.

I spotted it at an art exhibition at Sarah Lawrence College in New York.

In response to my most recent post of a drawing by Ronald Searle, various commenters wrote:
I think that is the most important in any drawing, draw what we feel instead of what we see, connections and relationship instead of objects
 [B]rilliant! He draws the way the old man FEELS rather than the way he LOOKS.    
Ike may not be an experienced professional artist like Searle, yet he has done a wonderful job of drawing what he feels.  Get a load of those teeth! Unlike the standard "lightning bolt" line most people use as a shortcut for drawing teeth, Ike has lovingly outlined each tooth separately.  Each tooth has its own unique, scary shape.

Ike couldn't fit this many teeth in his picture if he was constrained like an adult by the conventional proportions of a T-Rex.  Because his patterns of perception haven't hardened yet, he was able to unhinge the jaw and expand the mouth to make it as big as the entire rest of the dinosaur.  It appears that when he wanted still more teeth,  he added a third row above the dinosaur's head.  Ike is a creative artist with strong priorities.

And it doesn't end there. Not content to draw the dinosaur's body with a simple contour line the way many people would, Ike intuitively draws a jagged body like the roar of a thunder lizard shown on an oscilloscope (or the shock to your nervous system when you see a dinosaur coming toward you).

Psychologists tell us that children's drawings exaggerate shapes in ways that reveal the child's inner feelings about their subject.  There is a purity to this kind of imagination, which is what causes artists such as Picasso, Dubuffet, Klee and Steinberg to forsake technical skill and struggle to recall the stem cells of art.

Monday, April 02, 2018


An elderly gentleman sitting quietly in his armchair reading a newspaper-- could there be a less exciting subject for a drawing?

Well, that depends on the artist.

Here's how Ronald Searle handles the topic:

Look how Searle has re-invented the human form:  posture in the shape of a question mark; a sagging mouth that exceeds the limits of the face by extending all the way down to the jawbone; and legs like matchsticks.

For another artist, those pants legs would be a straight vertical line.  Look how Searle chips away
with what may have been a bamboo stick, giving them the character of rotting timber.

The hands have no bones, yet the gnarly lines grasp the newspaper perfectly. 

Searle's drawings always contain valuable lessons, but the one I'd like to emphasize here is that the subject matter does not necessarily limit the quality and originality of form. 

In an era where so many artists are convinced they don't have to draw well as long as their concepts are cool, Searle is a welcome reminder of the opposite truth: that quality in visual form can stand alone, proud and tall.