Rough Drafts

This poem was written in response to an exhibition, with the same title,Β in the Stanley and Audrey Burton Art Gallery at Leeds University.
But I suspect you will be able to understand what I am saying without seeing the exhibtion.


Rough Drafts

Hockney argues
that we need to learn to draw
before we can learn to paint.

I look at rough drafts
around the Gallery,
understand better
the process of making art.

It is no different really
from the process of making poems.

Sometimes we need to erect
the scaffolding
before we can make the poem.
We need to learn
to differentiate
between scaffolding and poem.

Similar it would seem
with painting –
draw the grid,
mark out the squares,
define the points
of reference
and only then
make the art.


35 Responses to “Rough Drafts”

  1. Yes, I can see waht you mean here. Interesting. I used to draw & paint alot more than I do now. Writing is my forte, where some preperation comes forth in its own season (:

  2. Interesting thoughts as always, David πŸ™‚

  3. Francina Says:

    Hi David,

    Interesting take on writing poetry. Even though I can’t draw or paint , I see where you are coming from with this poem. Much enjoyed!

    Ciao, Francina.

    • Thank you Francina,

      You may not draw or paint but you do take inspirational photographs.
      A few days in Snowdonia would do me the world of good methinks πŸ™‚


      • Francina Says:

        You’re welcome, David, and thank you for your kind words.

        Just remember we live only once , my friend, and if you would would like to visit Snowdonia again and would be able to do that , just do it!!!

        Ciao, Francina πŸ™‚

      • Big Smile,

        I have put it on my ‘to do’ list Francina


      • Francina Says:

        good πŸ™‚

        Ciao, Francina

  4. Hi David
    This makes sense to me, you have put into words here something that I never realized and maybe took for granted: this β€œdefining the points of reference” which is obvious for drawing perhaps, it is just as valid for poetry! The scaffolding (I looked up the meaning) of a poem needs to be balanced, as a poem has to be about something, has to have a soul, and is not just rhythm and meter, or only some solid use of language that justifies the way of its expression. To make the transistion from thought to impression in someone elses mind, it is needed to know about the other mind perhaps. (I know what I mean here, I hope you do too and agree πŸ™‚ If it sounds to complicated: I just spent an evening with a nine month old πŸ™‚ and I am trying to pretend I am mature now πŸ™‚ ) .

    You are doing both now, drawing/painting and poetry, and this is how you find the similarities in those ways of expression.

    I would not call my drawings art (although I was quite pleased doing the portraits I did so far) but I did also have to define the points of reference. I think this is true for abstract paintings as well, even.

    This poem was exciting to think about during my hours with Eline. Thank you for your comment on my blog, I haven’t had the time to reply anyone today sorry.
    Hope your trip went well !

    Arohanui πŸ™‚

    • too complicated I mean. Not to. πŸ™‚

    • Hi Ina,

      I am fascinated as I move down a different creative path to make comparisons with poetry.
      The similarities reassure me and give me confidence that I can learn to navigate through new territory.

      I agree with you totally that “a poem has to be about something, has to have a soul” (Too many times I read poetry which has neither – it leaves me cold.)

      I think the same applies to painting. πŸ™‚

      I would call your drawings art – I am very pleased with the portrait you did for me πŸ™‚

      My trip did go well – Whitby on Tuesday πŸ™‚


      • πŸ™‚ I am pleased it went well. I will let you know iof I hear from the bookseller here!
        Arohanui πŸ™‚

  5. Hi David,

    I can see you got a lot out of the exhibition.
    I was very pleased when starting on my journey with art that many aritists sketch, make reference and make mistakes.
    I’ve always said writing poetry is a form of art, because you are trying like with painting to bring an expression, a moment to life. The words are like colours and if you don’t have the right words the right structure to present them in etc…the poem suffers for it.
    In the same way with a painting you don’t just need the idea you need to know to some degree at least how to make the idea come alive, with colour, technique, style and perspective.
    They are both a skilled craft as they are an innate gift that just flows forth.

    I think ultimately we find our own way. I’ve done some paintings where I just painted, I knew where everything was meant to go, while others can take a lot more planning. I tried the grid reference thing and found it horribly distracting hence learning to refine my perspective by eye rather than relying on lines. Drawing though has certainly had benefits. I do disagree to a degree that one can’t paint until one learns to draw. But I do think drawing can enchace what you bring to a canvas, or i-pad. They inform each other and can be of mutual benefit. My drawing has improved immensly for having painted and my painting continues to improve from drawing.

    Hmmm. This poem brings a lot to mind for me. *lol* still a motor mouth! πŸ˜€ The main thing is the pause for thought it brought you. I can almost see the cogs turning away in your mind as you look around and put all the pieces together and become inspired.

    I wish you so much joy and success as you continue your journey with painting and continue you share such gems as this with us in your poetry.

    K’sOTC πŸ™‚

    • Hi Tikarma,

      This response is the most re-assurance I could have about the progress of your recovery.
      It is a typical ‘Tikarma’ response in which your enthusiasm and interest leads to an outpouring of words. I am delighted for it tells me you are well on your way. It is good to have you back. πŸ™‚

      I agree too with everything you say. In particular your use of the word ‘craft’
      We do need to be prepared to learn our craft. An innate gift will only take us so far – the learning of the craft will serve to help us improve.
      To use another analogy – People talk about the innate skill of George Best as a footballer. (Greatest footballer the world has ever seen, but I may be biased πŸ™‚ ) They neglect to mention the hours and hours he spent as a young man kicking a tennis ball in order to develop those skills. πŸ™‚

      I think one of the best things the exhibition did for me was to help to de-mystify the process.
      There is nothing magical about the creative process – it is as much about perspiration as it is about inspiration!!! πŸ™‚

      There may well however be something magical about the end result. (I have one of your paintings on my living room wall which is truely magical)
      And that I think is what we are all trying to achieve.

      You look after yourself – recovery is a process, not a race!! πŸ™‚

      and K’sOTC πŸ™‚

      • Thanks David,
        I’m glad my response was reassuring for you.
        Indeed I am taking my time with recovery. πŸ™‚ Although it is counter to my nature to sit I am being paitent and getting plenty of rest. πŸ™‚ It helps when you wirte on my favourite subject, it doesn’t take long for the enthusiasm to overflow. πŸ˜€
        I do very much agree with all you said especially all the the hours of hard work needed and dedication to refine a skill.

        Wishing you all the best for a wonderful weekend! πŸ™‚

        and K’sOTC πŸ™‚

  6. Thought-provoking — I like that! 😎

  7. Katherine Says:

    I so agree here .. i think one should understand grammar and sonnets and structure and THEN break the rules but my mother was an artist and i think i learned that from here i love this David..

    • True in all parts of our life I think Katherine.

      When I was nursing it was important to know the rules – so that I knew when I was breaking them!! πŸ™‚

      Thank you

  8. I have been thinking about this poem in reference to how I see Ethel do art. She trained at the University of Wisconsin, and though she can draw powerfully, she really tries for movement and spontaneity. She always says she wants to be surprised by what she finds as she works. She always has scaffolding, I think, but it comes from her experience created over a lifetime. Even when she is doing abstracts she seems to have a firm, confident grip on what she is after as her hands fly over the canvas or paper.
    I liked this poem very much, David. I always like poems that think about the craft of poetry and art. It seems to me that in thinking about what we are doing we grasp better the ways in which we can achieve our aims as poets and artists. This is especially true when we can read and learn from what a master has thought about and written about in response to his thinking.

    • Hi Tom,

      I have watched videos of David Hockney making art. He too has a lifetime of experience and I guess that the ‘scaffolding’ becomes ingrained – a bit like riding a bike really – once we learn we never forget even if starting again after a long time requires some practise.
      For myself, because I am starting out on the journey of making art I need to study and learn before that confidence can emerge. but the process fascinates me and I am thoroughly enjoying the process.
      There has been a break whilst all the activity around the launch of the book has been going on but I look forward to getting back to it soon.

      I hope your recovery is going in the right direction and that both you and Ethel are well

      Best Wishes


      • We’re good, David. The last test showed that, at least for now, I am cancer free. I have another test in August and September that I have to go through. I have made what is for me a momentous decision, though. I’m going to try to retire in April if we can sell our New Mexico house and move to Wisconsin where our children and grandchildren live. We have your book, by the way, and both Ethel and I have been reading it outside by the lilac bushes with great, great pleasure.

      • That is really good news Tom.

        As for retirement I remember my time of debating with myself as to whether or not I should go for it. Financial insecurity is always a worry!

        In the end it was one of the best decisions I ever made!! I learned to adjust and I am far more content, far more happy and probably far more busy!!!
        Go for it. I wish you well in your retirement.

        And I will also take pleasure in the image of you and Ethel reading my book “outside by the lilac bushes” πŸ™‚

        My very best to you both


  9. often those ‘rough drafts’ command good prices when of well-known works. not part of my philosophy, but i sort of separate mechanics and ‘art’ in my brain …. πŸ™‚

  10. Finding the “limits”, the “borders” of the proposed art is sort of like learning the parameters for our own lives, isn’t it?

  11. I love this David. As you know I read it the day you wrote it but wasn’t well enough to comment, but I have been thinking about it and other stuff while away from here.

    What I love so much about your poetry is that you write with such depth, yet with a gentle simplicity which just hits the spot. I can understand it straight away and yet the more I read it the more I find in it. And I don’t need to study three years for a degree to work out what your poetry is about. πŸ™‚

    And what a joy that you have now found another path for your creativity in painting (don’t let those brushes dry out πŸ™‚ ) And also that you have been able to marry the two together, the poetry and art. All a gift for you to treasure

    Love you loads



    • Ah Christine, do keep prompting me.
      The brushes have not quite dried out and now is the time I need to get back to painting.
      All the activity around the book launches took up a lot of my time, but looking at my diary this morning I can see a clear space ahead and I look forward to taking up the challenge again.

      I suspect the poetry will not go away either – I will post one this weekend!!!

      Love you loads

  12. It is interesting to compair the process of making poetry with the process of making other art. It all comes from the same space … This is a wonderful illustration. Nicely done, David. Bravo!

  13. Interesting to think about, David. I agree – it seems all creations (painting, poetry) follow a certain path, starting with the scaffolding – and then letting it develop and evolve. Sometimes I write a poem without scaffolding (yikes!) and start with a single line, not knowing where it’ll take me. Often it’s to a place I hadn’t intended, but is actually better. I don’t suppose that would work when it comes to painting a picture – and yet just maybe the scaffolding there can be changed as the artwork takes on a life of its own – which it seems, in the end, all creations do.

    • I find the creative process fascinating Betty.

      Like you I have had poems which seem to arrive direct from the Muse without touching the sides of my conscious mind!! And they are often than not they are among my better poems.

      I trust that as I continue to practise the process of making paintings then the same thing may well happen there. Just for the moment I need the scaffolding but even then, somewhere along the way, the artwork does, as you say, take on a life of its own. πŸ™‚

      But we do need to put the effort in!!!

      Best wishes


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