Monday, January 16, 2012

Creative Synthesis

Martin Luther King Jr is one of my favorite thinkers.

His book "Strength to Love" is one of my favorite books.

And this is one of my favorite passages from his sermon 'A tough mind and a tender heart':

A French Philosopher once said: “No man is so strong unless he bears within his character antitheses strongly marked”. The strong man is the man who can hold in a living blend strongly marked opposites. Very seldom do men achieve this balance of opposites. The idealists are not usually realistic, and the realists are not usually idealistic. The militant are not usually passive, and the passive are not usually militant. The humble are very seldom self-assertive and the self-assertive are rarely humble. But life at its best is a creative synthesis. It is the bringing together of opposites into fruitful harmony. As the philosopher Hegel said, “truth is found neither in the thesis nor the antithesis, but in an emergent synthesis which reconciles the two.”

This quote articulates the struggle of life beautifully, and I believe that what Mr. King said about the tension in man is also true of drawing:

A strong drawing is one that bears within it’s character the two antitheses of draftsmanship and vitality.

Figure drawing emphasizes observation, anatomy, and representation - Draftsmanship.

Gesture drawing emphasizes interpretation, feeling, and improvisation - Vitality.

It is the combination of these two skill sets- the 'creative synthesis' - that drawing is at it's best.

Live with a tough mind and a tender heart.

Draw with solid draftsmanship and spontaneous vitality.

Happy Martin Luther King Jr day.