On Drawing

Some time last fall (of 2020) I took a short on-line course from Brad Tebow to learn to use Procreate and then this spring, my kids and I rounded up some drawing books and a few other materials and, for a few weeks or so, made it part of our daily routine to sit at the table together and do some drawing. I’ve been periodically returning to drawing in both formats: digital and analogue.

A few weeks ago, one morning, I was feeling particularly stressed. Perhaps it was right after I’d given up drinking coffee and I was feeling the withdrawal (or perhaps it was before I’d given it up and I was feeling jittery). I don’t recall the specific sequence of events. But eventually it came time for the girls and I to sit down a draw. And so we did. My stress or anxiety or whatever it was faded very quickly as I put pencil to paper. It seems to have faded so well that even know I cannot recall was the source of my stress was.

I learned a bit about negative space by drawing one of our dining room chairs. These particular chairs were my grandmothers.

I think it is perhaps just the act of doing something, anything, that is the reason why drawing, specifically, helps me. And it’s not an art or activity that I’ve really engaged in much in the past so I don’t carry a lot of drawing baggage. Unlike, for example, writing (which I studied in graduate school and which was, as with many students I assume, one of the main means of evaluation throughout my entire education) around which I hear a cacophony of relentless, not to mention judgmental, voices. (To wit: even here, I just been considering whether “cacophony of voices” is a cliche, and therefore to be avoided. Needless to say, that was a voice I opted to silence.) It’s not like writing, which I’ve done for judgment (ahem) er — assessment or any sort of performance art. I just get to do it. I am neither a success or a failure. Well, except for in my kids’ eyes, but they are so unflaggingly exuberant in their support of whatever I draw as to be almost beyond belief.

A random assortment of items from the fridge. (At some point, Eric came and sat in the chair behind the bottles ergo the sort of ghostly beard and glasses.) When I look at this drawing now, I feel very proud of myself for having done it and I feel that I’m really coming along in my drawing confidence.

A bottom line truth is this: I love to make things. Always have and hopefully always will. And drawing something, anything, even just a line or a circle or a dot, is a satisfying way to scratch that particular maker itch.

But, too, drawing provides a different way of looking at, well, everything. Yes, mostly it is still worldly and concrete and real (for me at this point anyway), but it is a different way of breaking down space and building up layers. It’s very exciting. And this way of looking at things and thinking about things allows me to exercise — no — to experience different and new parts of my brain, parts that have hitherto been there but underexplored and underutilized. I’m quite enjoying peering into my brain in this way.

(I’ve been following 30 Minute Drawing for Beginners by Jordan DeWilde, which I have found very useful.)

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