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THE TEACHINGS OF GENE GOULD
(as related by his long-time friend Michèle Sawadogo)
|Those of us who were lucky enough to
interact with Gene Gould while trying to learn how to draw or paint will tell
you that: he was absolutely convinced that anybody willing to
work at it has the ability to become good,
if not very good, at
His advise as to how you could acquire greater skills was extremely simple, and can be summarized in a few major points:
1) Draw your hand!
You want to get better at drawing? Well, just draw your hand! But... don't do it only once, or even 10 times. No! Do it...
Gene himself probably did it many more times than that. And he certainly could made superb drawings of hands (see examples below). Was he particularly obsessed by this topic because he had lost a finger as a kid in a farm equipment accident? Maybe. Regardless, it is clear that your hand is a convenient model that is always available, complex, and constantly changing shape, thus making it a perfect subject for your practice.
Stop and LOOK!
That is something that Gene Gould was adamant about. Whatever your initial goal was for the artwork you are working on, if you don't stop at critical times and take a really good look at what is in front of you, you will not make progress. In fact, you may end up ruining something that was particularly good or unusually interesting at that point on your page or canvas, and it will be lost forever.
|As an example, here is a simple drawing by Gene Gould that quickly conveyed what the artist was focusing on, namely the intensity in the eyes of his model, so he just stopped and entitled this sketch: "Drawing eyes".
|A possible downside of the idea
of "stopping and looking" is that you might accumulate numerous unfinished drawings or paintings
because you are concerned that further work will make them worse rather
than better. Well, Gene Gould himself did that a lot... However, leaving aside for some time an unfinished painting may
let you see it in a different way and, importantly, discover the feeling
that this artwork projects, thereby allowing you to make great improvements
next time you work at it.
The "stop and look" advice should not prevent you from occasionally letting your imagination take over if you find yourself suddenly immersed in totally wild drawing and scribbling.
Here is an example of where this could lead you. Gene Gould entitled this crazy but remarkable drawing of his "Thoughts to Life".
|3) Final word of advice:
Practice makes perfect, so never go anywhere without taking with you at least one sketchbook and some drawing tools! Gene Gould never failed to do that, and this habit sometimes yielded interesting or unusual drawings.
|Gene Gould in Central Park during a trip to New York in 2002
|Gene Gould at a friend's house near Paris during a vacation in France in 2003
|Furthermore, as you observe the world around you, some unexpected subject might strike you as a wonderful theme for your next artwork, which leads us to the next topic:
SEEING BEAUTY IN MUNDANE OBJECTS