When I draw, I usually start with one small area or bit of detail. Sometimes my aim is to draw a particular thing; other times, I just want to draw shapes and patterns representing the parts of reality I tend to see and notice.
When I am not trying to draw anything in particular, I seem to use a lot of "tree branch" and vine motifs, along with things that resemble steam and smoke and cracks and shine accents on the surfaces of amorphous shapes.
When I draw a picture such as the one below (which is really only a portion of a larger picture), I tend to hone in on one tiny area, and fill it up with detail. Only when an area has been appropriately saturated with inky curves do I move on to the next area (which may be adjacent, or which may be on a different and wholly empty part of the page).
Eventually, the paper I started with is covered with shapes and lines. Sometimes the whole thing resembles a kind of surreal "scene", other times it does not. When I look later upon pictures such as this, my eyes wander and track and follow from one small area to the next. I like to get lost when drawing, and lost when looking, in the microcosms of each small area of the whole.
This is very much the way I actually look at the world. I didn't realize that until relatively recently, but when I did, my own drawings suddenly fell into a kind of context.
My parents tell me that my very first questions about the world around me involved parts: I wanted to know about the holes in the telephone receiver, the insides of rocks, the mechanisms that made the hot water come out of the tap hot, and the composition of my hair.
What does it feel like to walk into a store or other environment you have never visited before?
For me, it feels rather like walking into a kaliedoscope.
I see shapes and colors all around me -- raw shapes and colors, not "objects" or things invested intrinsically or instantaneously with symbolic meaning. The symbolic meaning-layer must be consciously or at least semi-consciously applied.
This does not mean I cannot see patterns or functional/aesthetic attributes of things -- it just means that, for instance, if I know I want a place to sit down and I walk into an unfamiliar room, I am just as likely to sit on the floor or on a windowsill or some other flat surface as I am to sit on a chair.
It means that if I am watching a movie, I might be looking at something off to the side of the actors, or the pattern on someone's shirt, or at something in the background, rather than at the aspects of the foreground the camera is directly focusing on.
It means that I am drawn to particular patterns and collections of shape, color, and light, and hurtled into confusion by others.
It means that right when I enter a new environment, I am uncommonly clumsy and vulnerable. I walk into people and walls. I scamper and run away from too much input, too much light, too many moving hands and the shadows they cast.
Perhaps this is a "constraint".
But do not ask me if I would rather be "free" of it, for such a question assumes that there is nothing but loss in such vulnerability and gracelessness.
And believe me, that is not the case.