After the Bacon exhibition I went for a look at the Dobell Drawing Prize at the Art Gallery of NSW. This is the last Dobell Drawing Prize after 20 years and I was pretty sad about that. It struck me that Bacon had no sketchbooks displayed in the exhibition and I was then curious about his habits and it appears most of his work went straight onto the canvas. I’m currently reading David Hockney’s biography A Rakes Progress whose drawing is such an important foundation of his work. I remember being in awe of a simple line in his drawing that went from black to red so easily and obviously. Beautiful.
I remember seeing the Dobell prize for the first time and my excitement of drawing that I continue to have. I remember being obsessive, taking the sketchbook in the bath to draw the taps, taking it fishing to draw while the line was dangling, always at the beach and having a sketchbook especially for train trips small with an orange cover so I knew the difference.
I still have a sketchbook with me at most times but I don’t have that obsession anymore. I don’t know where I lost it but wish it was back. I love that feeling being lost in a drawing, starting small getting past that uncomfortable niggling feeling and then being swap away in the marks. I still use drawing within my painting and don’t think I could ever use just paint, the brush handle is too distant from my finger tips.
The last exhibition for the Dobell was like saying goodbye to some old favourites and familiar names associated with drawing. The prize will be replaced with a drawing biennale which sounds exciting but a long time between drinks.