I was at the butcher a few days ago and after I passed my money to the butcher I turned to walk outside with the butcher reminding me I had forgotten my purchase. As I was in one of those moods, I found this absentmindedness amusing and tried to stop giggling like a schoolgirl as I walked down the street to the pharmacy only to stand like a goofy statue at the exit waiting for the automatic door to open. It was at this point my giggles were harboring on ridiculous. To avoid further embarrassment I forced composure and began to act my age albeit with an unusually large smile. By the end of it, funny or not, I had a wonderful laugh at myself.
Do you know anyone who wouldn’t laugh at a joke unless it was clearly a joke? In other words, do you know anyone who is the least spontaneous imaginable?
Degas said, “Well, I’m glad I haven’t found my style yet. I’d be bored to death”. Degas would study something by repeatedly drawing it with different mediums such as pastel, gouache, pencil, conte crayon, charcoal and often various combinations of the above. I’m sure he had many reasons for studying this way but I am going to hazard a guess that he was primarily observing. Observing what little surprises might pop up along the way. The way blue pastel lines highlight a shadow against a dark charcoal line compared to the diluted effect gouache had in the same situation for example.
If Degas weren’t expecting surprises, I doubt he would have been experimenting. He would have just stuck to what he knows, stuck to his own style, a style he didn’t seem to want to figure out.
What does Degas and conte crayon have to do with laughing like a school girl? Spontaneity! We don’t need to have everything figured out, ordered, filed, categorized, crossed off, checked or actioned. It is the surprises that lead to new discoveries. Sounds like a nice little philosophy and a delightful way to spend the day.