DEMI: The Drawings
For painters, the act of drawing takes on a wide range of meanings. For some painters, the drawing is a thought, a whisper of an idea given form on a page so that the creative process can continue to grow. For others, a drawing is an academic enterprise that can formulate an image to a degree of finish and create a work in its own right independent of the act of painting. In some cases, the drawing is both the expression of an idea and the exploration of possibilities.
For DEMI, drawing is commensurate with the act of painting. Her first drawings lie beneath her painted images because she drew her compositions in detail right on the canvas and then painted them over as she brought the images to life. In 1994, inspired by the sight of a bird that had perched on a rose bush that she had planted, but which was failing, she made her first drawing, One Bird on a Dying Tree. This was followed by Two Birds on a Royal Poinciana Tree. In these drawings, DEMI learned that the immediacy inherent to the process of drawing meant she could explore a different type of two-dimensional medium as an independent creative act.
Between 1994 and 2005, DEMI focused on drawings when she took family holidays at Delray Beach. These drawings were few in number, seven or eight a year, and were inspired by direct observation. As such, they were records of her experience. Many of these drawings were transformed into painted compositions, although they were not initiated as preparatory drawings.
In 2005, DEMI read that some artists were inspired by pre-existing lines on walls that indicated possibilities for development into drawings and images. She began to think about drawing in a different way: “I decided then to close my eyes and begin drawing lines in all directions on a white piece of drawing paper. I open my eyes, look at the lines for a while and by letting my imagination or my intuition take over these lines, I see figures. These figures will always have something to do with my life. I will identify with them. As with all my paintings, they always have something that links me to them and them to me.”
Thinking with line is a different process from enacting images with paint. Both are guided by a similar concept, but the expression of form through medium varies so much that it is a different language requiring an adjustment to a different structure. This novel structure is what DEMI has now incorporated into her creative impulse.
Since her first two drawings in 1994, DEMI has created a body of work that exemplifies the possibilities of the medium on her own terms. Some of DEMI’s drawings are nothing more than a few lines – economic in their minimalism and simplicity. They are shorthand ideas that may or may not grow into paintings. Other drawings are full of possibility and clearly moving towards future compositional development. Still other drawings are independent works that will not be developed because they are all that they should be as drawings. Color infuses some of these images, others remain in black and white, while others have traces of color indicative of moods or potential.
DEMI’s drawings are what drawings are to all artists – a different way of thinking about the transcription of experience and knowledge into form. Drawing is distinguished from painting because it is a more direct transcription of an idea into form. The various modes of expression through drawing allow a freedom that the demands of painting withhold. In some of DEMI’s drawings, the images are light, almost tentative; in others, the images appear strong and emphatic. This aesthetic diversity is part of what the medium affords the artist: drawing can be whatever the artist wants it to be or whatever the image, the idea, the paper, and the drawing materials inspire the artist to create.
DEMI’s drawings are captivating as unique entities that record her artistic process and as maps indicating directions she may take. They are becoming of increasing importance for her work, and they indicate a new way for her future creative path.
Ph.D. /Princeton University