Last week I opened a big can of worms.
Last week I admired a friend’s drawing. I mentioned that I should get back into drawing, as it is a skill that suffers with neglect.
She suggested we set a day, and each post our efforts.
I jumped at the opportunity. Who wouldn’t?
This is a chance to share in an activity that I love with another artist who’s skills I admire.
An assignment and a deadline. With art, with writing and with life in general, I function much better with a specific task and a set finish time. Though I cursed every single deadline when I was in college, I get kind of nostalgic about them now.
Thursday. That’s the day we will each publish our drawings.
It started out fine. I had a week.
I set out pencils (Mars Lumograph, 6B) and paper (a sturdy bond in a size that would fit in my small scanner). I planned a little photo of these simple materials and a paragraph to explain my choices. I would scan my drawing and publish it right on time. I anticipated your awe (yes, all of you!) that from such humble materials could come such lovely work.
That was several days ago.
That was before I actually put pencil to paper.
Before all the talking to myself.
I said all the things I say to my students:
“Do not look at the subject. Look at the shapes that make up the subject, and the relation of the shapes one to another. Look at the shapes of shadow and light. Draw those things, and the subject will magically appear, more real than you could imagine.”
“Use a light hand until you are confident.”
“Don’t be afraid to let the bones of your drawing show. If you have to draw a line three times to get it right, leave your efforts to add character and humanity to your drawing. Do not erase.”
I said the things my students have said to me:
“I can’t draw edge to edge if the paper is so big!”
“I can’t tell the difference between all the colors of gray!”
“What do you mean, ‘Do not erase’?!?”
I started and stopped. I found fault with the light, the materials and the subject matter. Even more so with my quality of line, my interpretation of depth and space and shadow.
I erased. I discarded and started again. And again.
Last night, with deadline looming, I started over.
Out with the 6B Mars Lumograph pencils that aren’t as rich and smooth as I remembered them to be. Out with the sturdy bond in the 9″ by 12″ size.
I pulled out my little sketchbook and my Indian ink pen. There will be no erasures. I framed in tiny (2″ x 3″) rectangles. Drawings will go edge to edge. I used the alphabet to choose my subject matter (my friend will understand why). I kept going until I had something to offer.
It’s not much…but it is tremendous in what I learned.
I dealt with issues like lack of confidence, fear of failure and paranoia.
I faced the fact that my skills have suffered from lack of use. I am unfamiliar with the feel of a pencil in my hand, have difficulty following a line, straight or otherwise, and struggle with coordinating eye and hand. These are all issues that beginning students deal with. I assure them, always, that these are learned skills that, with practice, they will master.
Now, I’m reassuring myself the same way.
Thank you, Lisa, for this impetus to get back to drawing!