Watching Stories

Short circuit


To all appearances, these are just a few messy, abstract lines. The pencil rushed across the paper, scratching at the speed of the eye, leaving the conscience lagging behind. The image passed from the eye to the hand. The brain was short-circuited.
I think we can talk about mindfulness and present moment when thoughts disappear into pure sensation. The complete image hits the retina to be thrown, partial, on the paper. Between the two, the white of the paper, like so many undrawn details that the eye has not been able to see. Because make no mistake about it, the intellect has nothing to do with the success or failure of a fiel
dsketch. It’s all about observation. And we can never repeat Philippe Hainard’s lesson to his son Robert enough: ” We draw badly because we draw what we know and not what we see.

And I perceive only too well these moments when time and consciousness fade away to be only observation. It’s the exhilarating, flowing sensation where you feel it’s working. And when it’s over, I always wonder how is that possible.
I am naturally very rational, with a strong need to explain and understand. But here, the most beautiful results come from this short-circuiting of the brain, which
has no longer access to what is happening. It can no longer intellectualize, reflect or calculate. It is kept on the sidelines, unable to search for meaning or recognize patterns. The result is not always the most beautiful or the most successful, but always the most alive, the most touching. I see it, I feel it, like so many other people in front of field images. We leave the admiration of the technical performance, to dive into the contemplation of a moment of life. Goodbye intellect, hello emotions.

This sketch can have movement, life and yet it is so abstract. It is as if the suggestion had a much stronger power on us than the too complete result of a finished, clean and sharp image. But why? It is a mystery that fascinates me. This direct link from observation to the eye to the hand to the paper seems to bring back with it much more than a simple silhouette in a few lines. It drags in its wake the wind that blows the paper, the rapid scratching of the pencil, the eyes that run from the binoculars to the paper, the fear of running out of time, the rush in front of the moving animal. It evokes the smell that this bear is looking for with the tip of his nose, these rocks that carry his fatigue, the breeze, the foam, the tundra… The white of the paper, like a space to lodge our emotions.

This is a constant battle for me, the rational one, the scientific one. I want to translate what I have observed as faithfully as possible, like an objective fact, a result, a data. But I must admit defeat, of course. What pushed me to make this image? to short-circuit my brain in this way? to prefer the field sketch to the perfectionism of the studio? Emotion, admiration, enthusiasm, fascination…call it what you will. I was touched in the heart, not in the head. I was stirred and I fill the gaps in the paper not with a thousand missing details in the bear’s coat or with the infinite shades of its colors. I fill these absences with its attitude, with what I recognize of myself, with what I remember, with its sensations that I imagine.
My rational mind resists to write these things. It gets tense because it thinks it is lost on the track of the feeling, of the emotion, of the subjective, far from the measurable, the quantifiable, the certain, the precise, the correct. A symptom of our time.

It is a constant inner battle that has only just begun, that lasts and will last. Ferdinand Gonseth, mathematician and philosopher had said to his friend Robert Hainard, the brilliant artist who had left school at the age of twelve: “ We come from opposite sides of knowledge, and our agreement has the value of proof “. Hainard came from the art side, deeply attached to the sensation and the observation. And his passion for nature naturally led him to explore the other side, that of the scientist. For my part, I feel that I am going the opposite way, and the scale needs a heavy counterweight to balance it.

This counterweight is observation, this short-circuiting, this movement from reason to emotion, from the head to the heart, from the useful to the beautiful.


Polar Bear – Fieldsketch – 20 x 30 cm