David Harlan


A Statement About David's Ship Drawings and Watercolors

“The works of poets, sculptors and representative artists in general contain an unacknowledged treasure of profound wisdom; just because out of them the wisdom of the nature of things itself speaks, whose utterances they merely interpret by illustrations and purer repetitions. On this account, however, every one who reads the poem or looks at the picture must certainly contribute out of his own means to bring that wisdom to light; accordingly he comprehends only so much of it as his capacity and culture admit of; as in the deep sea sailor only lets down the lead as far as the length of the line will allow. Before a picture, as before a prince, everyone must stand, waiting to see whether and what it will speak to him…”

Arthur Schopenhauer, The World as Will and Idea, Revised 1844.

The simple, physical line alternating between my mind and my hand is an intimate creative link within myself, the subject, and then I share with the viewer. There is no filter, or mechanical process, between the viewer and my drawing. Formally, I begin a drawing with an evolving gesture that widens into intent, then into space and forms. As I make these drawings the subjects are molded, moved, and subtracted: changed.

The sketch and its gestural character is the direct product of my connection with an immediate and intuitive source. “The Ship” series, for reasons I am not certain, arrived, inspired and restarted a new focus in my drawing and intentions.

At first these drawings were about a humorous relationship between the sea, the beach and sunbathers with a precarious and malevolent freighter. Then I began to free the ships (temporarily?) from gravity and the water. Finally, they are firmly stranded and/or broken shipwrecks, in a transitional landscape, somewhere. Beyond the joy of drawing ships as sculptures of form and mass are the human narratives about their history and impending outcomes. Each “Ship” drawing is a page of its own story, whether as a metaphor, or a real imagined incident.

Many you see here I draw, layer with color pencil color and paint over a period of time, reflecting my shifting understanding and points of view of my sketches.

Some I destroy.