I’ve been meaning to write this bicycle story up and post here for awhile now… a question came yesterday during the Silly Workshop which propelled me to actually DO IT! So I wanted to copy it here as well, in case any of you are also experiencing insecure feelings around your drawing skills, and might need a little “pep talk.”
I’ve wondered a lot about how and why we have such high expectations for ourselves when it comes to drawing. It could be a generational thing. Many of us who are older than 40 were “taught” that only those who could draw like Norman Rockwell, for example, were “artists.” Then many of us stopped drawing at all in 3rd or 4th grade and labeled ourselves as someone who “can’t draw.”
The truth is, drawing is a journey, a process, and a skill to be developed and enjoyed over time. Try to think of it like learning a language; you start taking a Spanish class, for example, and learn a few words or phrases. You struggle with the accent. Every once in awhile you come out with a sentence that is both grammatically correct AND the proper accent — yay!
But, if you’ve only been trying to learn Spanish for a few weeks, you would hardly expect yourself to be fluent…. It’s the same with drawing: Think of your animal drawing (for example) as a “word” or the profile of a human face as another “word.” Pretty soon, when you have said it/drawn it enough times, it will start to be part of your “vocabulary” and will flow out more effortlessly. In the beginning, though, you have to keep looking it up in the dictionary!
But even though many of you are in the early learning stages, it doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy it!
To illustrate: Recently I got a new bicycle, and I haven’t ridden a bicycle in about 10 years. I felt embarrassed and clumsy the first time I went out on it, especially when my husband took me up a hill and I had to GET OFF AND WALK THE BIKE… ugh!
I spent the next month riding by myself around the nearby lake, staying away from any hills (no WAY was I going to go up that Punishment Hill again!). I quickly realized this truth: Even though I might never be “great” on the bicycle, I could still enjoy the flat parts! This was a huge breakthrough for me and it applies to learning to draw (or anything you else you might like to learn): whatever your level, you can “enjoy the flat parts.” (Does this make sense?)
But wait, there’s MORE to the story!
After about a month on the new bike, I noticed that, even though the terrain was basically flat, there was enough variance in the road that I could tell my legs were getting stronger… a little. So I decided that day to try going up the Punishment Hill to see how far I would get. I know you already know that I RODE RIGHT UP THE HILL.
Lesson: Try to approach your drawings like you might riding a bicycle; even though you can always get into “better shape,” that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy an easy ride around the lake (and in the process, get in “better” shape)!
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I guess my main point is to be gentle with yourself. Many of you are navigating new terrain, and are feeling “clumsy” and “embarrassed.” Really, this is a fairly normal feeling WHENEVER we try something new!
I hope this helps!!
Paintings done in front of a “live” audience rarely turn out in my experience… I am feeling “rushed” at the time, usually, and so… usually, blech.
But I like this one!! It’s not quite finished, but almost… and thank you to the student who “saw” the backward glance and suggested it to me… from the “Creatures on Wood” workshop here in Seattle a week or so ago.
So… how are you today? It’s Wednesday already, and trash day. It’s also another day for a Silly Worksheet. It’s also the day before my husband comes home from his most recent trip. And a day to ride my bike (hopefully, we’ll see).
What’s on your to-do list?
Lately I’ve been going through some old journals/sketchbooks.
In 1994 we were staying at a hotel in Indiana when I overheard the following while swimming at the pool:
Boy: What’s your address?
Christer (my son, 7 years old): 820.
Boy: Mine is 15.
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Christer: “Which floor do you live on?”
“I live on the 5th floor.”
Boy: “Which window?”
“I think it’s on the other side. I think it’s about that one.”
“I live on the 2nd floor under the door.”
(P.S. That’s me in 2nd grade in 1970!)
I spent last Thursday, Friday and Saturday in a near panic as all my best-laid plans went terribly, terribly wrong. Long Story Short: emails sent have bounced back (or disappeared) by the dozens, and therefore people think I’m not responding to their queries (but I AM, honest!).
It’s so frustrating, because I can’t contact these people via e-mail to tell them that they are not receiving my e-mails!
I have been able to find a few people through Facebook or Etsy and communicate that way… if you are someone who is not receiving communication from me, please know that I AM trying! “Friend” me on Facebook, find me on Etsy, or put my email in your mail folder as a “known sender!” (Though in many cases even THAT is not working. Sigh.)
(Yes, this has to do with the Silly2 workshop, and no, the irony is not lost on me!)
P.S. Thankfully, MOST people are receiving everything just fine!!
Well, I’ve had a busy week! Apparently now I can add “spammer” to my list of credentials.
But after two days of emailing issues, there is light at the end of the tunnel. Yay.
Yesterday, after spending all day at home putting out “silly fires,” my husband came home and I told him that our cat Natalie was missing.
Me: “I haven’t seen her all day. She’s not upstairs, or anywhere! I think she’s lost out in the rain.”
Husband: “Really? You haven’t seen her all day?”
Me: “No. I think she’s really lost.”
Husband: “Really? You haven’t seen her all day?”
At which point I start to throw him a dirty look for repeating himself when I notice him looking at a curled up ball of fur on the couch, about five feet from me.
I know some of you are tired of the silly. I would be, too, if I were you. Soon this blog will go back to SERIOUS POSTS such as this one and this one, but for now, can you endure one more announcement?
I’ve been asked often if the Silly Worksheets from the first class in April could be purchased as a set (for those who missed it in April…).
Just wanted all the Silly People to know that they should have received an email last week with a link to a Test Worksheet… if you DIDN’T receive it, first try checking your spam folder. If it’s not there, email me right away (email@example.com) and we’ll figure it out! (Class starts Wednesday!)
I also want to assure the few people that couldn’t open the file that I am working on an alternative for you TODAY, and you should hear from me tonight on that.
Friday: Drawing Lab “Play”
All Friday photos by Cyndy… (thanks for letting me post these, Cyndy!)
Friday evening was the first “Drawing Lab” class of three that I am teaching this fall, largely using exercises from the book… there were seven students in all and we did wrong-handed portraits, blind contours, charcoal drawings, Picasso dogs and a doodled lion.
I just love the above portraits, which so much capture the character of each woman….
Here they are in real life, Isabel and Cyndy…
Newest “prop,” and….. my favorite photo of the evening:
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Saturday: Creatures on Wood
Here is some work from today’s class:
This sweet dog by Kay.
This one by Isabel,,not quite finished!
Great dogs today, right?!! This one is by Cindy.
Carolyn did this super cool creature.
And I just love this sea-like one by Cindi!
Thank you to everyone who came to the workshops… if you are interested in future Seattle workshops, here is the info!