Can you draw without reference? – Drawing Coaching

When we ask ourselves that question, we are reminded that drawing is inextricably linked to reference; if it was only a matter of moving reference, we would never need to make reference; and we are led, in this way, to the question, can one be absolutely free of reference? How long should we need to wait for an answer to this question?
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There is hardly any doubt at this point the answer will be negative. We have all seen and learned to draw in such a situation. It is just as certain, however, that all drawing, whether in the abstract or in the concrete, requires reference. In order to have any kind of sense as to how far one can stray from reference, we have to draw something; that is, we have to draw the thing itself. This requires a constant reference; and the sooner we draw something, the sooner we can give it a name. In drawing, therefore, there is a constant relationship between the thing itself and the reference we have drawn with regard to it. This is the relation in which we can place ourselves when making reference. It is in this relation that the artist finds the source of his art.

To be completely free from reference, to become the object of art, requires, at least on the part of those art-making men like Rousseau who made art, an ability to use the objects around them in a sense analogous to that with which we use objects in general. We are drawn to these objects and they are drawn to us by reference, as is well known to everybody.

To describe our relation to art-objects requires to be in a sense familiar to ourselves. The object at hand to be described is, of course, art-objects; and it is in reference to art-objects that the artists have found their sources of inspiration. These same objects to be described may be the subjects for their works; they may be objects for their lives of pleasure; they may serve only as instruments. It is from such art-objects as these that the artist must try to find his subjects for life as he lives it.

The idea of living life as it is by means of art-objects has been found, to a certain extent at least, from the time of the Renaissance. For us artists, these objects represent the conditions of life in order to be capable of expressing them in art, in art of its own. The conditions, however, which must govern the expression of these conditions in art are very peculiar; for the

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