Negative Incapability

Many years ago I happened upon a book of drawing exercises.  In one the author (whose name escapes me) instructed the readers not to draw their subject.  Rather, they were to draw the shape of the emptiness surrounding their subjects. This may be a common way of teaching drawing, but it had never previously occurred to me to look at the world this way.  For days afterward I could not stop noticing the negative spaces created by the things that shaped their emptiness.  Suddenly overhead telephone lines dissected the sky into trapezoids and triangles, and the horizon became the immense mold hovering weightlessly above the rooftops. 

I'm not sure why this memory crops up, but maybe it has something to do with the end of the semester, when I go from teaching, meetings and deadlines to not teaching, no deadlines and only the occasional meeting.  This is what I do when I'm not doing what I do.  Negative space.  And I don't do it very well, or at least I haven't yet made the transition three weeks after the end of the semester.

I should be revising my Humanities reader, making all those endless course improvements and working on core implementation.  I should at least be reading more or writing a poem, but somehow I can't seem to pass from something to nothing.  I was talking with a retiring colleague recently and he noted that his final spring semester felt like all the others.  It was merely coming to an end with summer looming ahead just as it always has.  The difference would only appear later.  Next fall he just wouldn't come back.

Comments

Frida said…
betty edwards - drawing on the right side of the brain
Professor Quest said…
D'oh, that's the book. I was confusing it with the one that has you draw Sternberg upside down.
frida said…
it's the same one

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