My name is Christian Gräser. I am an arts educator and some-times artist. This website serves a dual purpose: it is a platform for sharing some thoughts on education and particularly on the place of art in education, and it is a portfolio of some of my work.
I have been interested in representations of the human figure in art for over twenty years. I did not take art as a subject in school, intending to become a veterinarian after matriculating, but then ended up studying Fine Art despite my lack of any kind of preparation for such a course in secondary school. Art-making was terrifying. It still is, really. At university I fell in love with the mystery and expressive power of the human form, from Assyrian friezes to Gothic decorativeness, through the Renaissance and on towards the present. From that first year onwards the human form is what I have cared most about and concentrated on in drawing and painting and sculpture. I was enthralled by the elegance of our anatomy, captivated by the beauty of flesh on bone. I copied from the Old Masters, I asked all my friends and anyone else who was willing to model for me, and I drew constantly. I think I revisit the same motif again and again as a way of learning to understand it, and I think I have been trying to understand human nature and myself in relation to it, and the expressive potential of the human form for as long as I can remember.
Almost from the beginning I preferred to draw with ink. There is a calm meditative quality to drawing with ink and a dipping nib; there is no way to rush the process, it requires concentration, the development of a broad mark-making vocabulary and a willingness to accept mistakes. It is tensely poised between the desire to be precious about the work and at the same time not so attached to it as to deplore rough work and bold simplification. To me it feels like a very honest way to draw, with construction lines, corrections, and all present in the final work. At the same time there is a tension between the drawing and the subject, there is an external measure to aspire to, and this is never more enthralling than with a model. A live model deepens the interaction between eye and mind, in practical ways (time constraints, stiffness, stretching, changing lighting conditions etc.) and in subtler ways (what will the model think of your work, are you capturing something of their essence or character?). In a sense it is similar to the difference between going to the cinema or going to the theater, except that even though you are literally the audience, you are also the one on stage performing. To extend the metaphor, drawing with pen and ink shows the whole backstage area, not just the finished stage set.
Most of the images on this site are taken from my sketch-books and journals. The drawings are small, well-suited to the intimate nature of the subject matter. Drawing has always been my go-to discipline, it is where I am most comfortable. Drawing is the most direct way of externalising an idea, of making something concrete from the abstract and ethereal. You have a thought, you make a mark.
My interest in figures was linked to an interest in portraiture, and my preference of drawing with pen and ink was linked to my approach to painting; I prefer to work directly, with little planning, making such adjustments as seem necessary as I work, thus ensuring that my interest is always keyed up since I do not know what the final composition will be. It is safe to say that I have a short attention span, and this process helps me to maintain the concentration and engagement necessary to see a painting through to the end.