Finding the line between control and expression


Recently I did a short course in academic drawing. One of the exercises was to draw this lovely woman. There was a lot of emphasis on control and precision on the course which was useful for me but started me thinking about how we balance control and expression in art. Much of the art loved by ordinary members of the public (Van Gogh's sunflowers, Constable's Haywain for instance) balances precisely between control and the use of expressive gesture. Too much control and the painting is dead. Too little and it is simply a mess. 

We may see the achievement of this balance as a kind of genius but mostly it requires practice. Sometimes I feel I am just touching the edges of this balance but then it slips out of my grasp. Sometimes it creeps up on me when I least expect it. The ultimate expression of this in music are the great Jazz musicians. I've also seen it in preachers and political speakers. I think the trick is to lose control slightly but have the knowledge and skills to stay right on the edge. I'm going to keep practicing and hope.