A spontaneously combustible being consumed by an inner fire while remaining relatively intact.
—John Howe, defining ‘Phlogiston’
which sounds enticingly inscrutable and esoteric, simply refers to the practice of gambling.
Gathers broken shells on beaches, pebbles with holes in them and other hopeful but powerless talismans. Goes for long walks on steep hills, spends much time watching the sea. Picks up dead leaves and tries to memorize their structure. Becomes enamoured of themes to a point beyond any reason. Works into the night, but still gets up at dawn. Never seems to do well enough. Can only look back on work that is so old it no longer matters. Knows the next painting will be the one. Wants to get it right but cannot define what right is. Hates getting it wrong (but quite familiar with that feeling, thank you.) Cannot even describe that it is for that matter. Buys useless and usually broken things because they suddenly appeal. (To what? Cannot define.) Would happily be a knight in shining armour, but rust just gets everywhere. Loathes paperwork (how terre-à-terre and quotidian). Is always busy, but never done. Isn't at all heroic or invincible, but daydreams about it. Works hard on things that don't matter because somehow they do. Gets lost in thought often (has no proper map). Is a little raggedy at the edges, and patched at the elbows, but patches of gold and silver. Goes to buy groceries and comes back with books. Can spend whole life drawing pictures of things that don't exist. Occasionally peers out of hedge at the world speeding past, but knows roads are dangerous things... they can lead just about anywhere. Even to the other side of the world.
Rather than wishes of prosperity and the like, I would wish upon all the quickening of heart that accompanies those moments of music, art, written word or wandered landscape when you are drawn out of yourself into something vaster and wilder of spirit, into those things which are part of us all but the property of none.
It is simply a glimpse, at a given time, of an idea. Drawings are thoughts fixed in graphite lightly. They can be the best way to abandon an idea with no regrets, or a way to retain that fleeting something, to be revisiting months or even years later. […]
Now that it's said and done, I've finally come to realize that it never really is, that pencils provide the perfect impermanence, the ultimate lightness of seeing, the line that is always between the lines in a sort of fractal meta-physicality -- no matter how closely you depict an idea, there are always dozens more hidden within. [... W]hile practice makes good, perfect is always in the next sketch, that the only real line is the horizon.
It's no coincidence that etymology provides such solace; with each drawing you draw yourself closer to two things: understanding the nature of the world around you and depicting in patient graphite the worlds you have within. Like two mirrors placed face to face, the artist is somewhere in that infinity of reflection and counter-reflection. [...]
A drawing is never really done.