In the order they were done:
I got the notice that there was going to be a model at the Lafayette Atelier Monday morning. It was so strange to be sitting with a model in front of me again. As soon as I sat down, that inner critic started whining in the back of my mind. I almost started to count the years since I sat in front of a model, but I stopped myself. Then I discovered that I had left some of my supplies at home, like sandpaper to sharpen my charcoal, my skewer to measure with and my blending junk. I almost told myself I could never make a good drawing without the important supplies. Then I remembered someone saying "A real artist can make something out of a stick and some dirt", so I pressed on.
There is something very energizing about looking at a model and using your hands to record what you see. I can't think of anything else like it in the world. Although my goal is to be very good at representing the subject matter, the real point of drawing a model from life is to be there in the moment. Breathing in, looking, breathing out, marking. There is a rhythm to it, like a song or a dance. If I can let go of all those stupid thoughts that keep me from hearing the soft rhythm, I can find it. It just exists quietly in there somewhere all the time. I think that is the "zone" or the "flow" that I hear about.
After getting this drawing home, I noticed that my attitude about our model was staring me square in the face. My first impression of her as she got into place was that she looked like a queen. The way the light shined on her from my angle and the way she sat so straight and poised made her regal. She was quite beautiful. I fell in love with her chin and the way the shadow hugged around it. Because of that, I overworked it and did not leave well enough alone. There is a time to let go. I find that I understand that after I have gone past that point.
Even though there will always be an underlying attempt to be correct and realistic with my drawing and painting, there is always going to be a piece of myself, my inner workings, merged into my art. I can tell you that there are some issues with proportion on this piece. I see it. I will go into my next piece knowing I need to pay attention to these things, but now that this one is done, it is just kind of nice to appreciate it for what it is. This is where I was. This is what I saw. Now that I look at it, I see things differently, but at that time and in that place, this is what happened. Those arms had a long way to go to make it to the top of her torso. Those legs stretched way out in front of her. Her chin lifted in a very confident manner. It is kind of a nice memory to have captured.
This next sketch is of my daughter, Toni. Instead of watching TV she writes. She has book after book that she has filled with an unending desire to get the words on the paper. She sat at one end of the table and I sat at another. Her pencil was going as fast as her brain/hand would allow as mine did the same. The only sound from either of us was the sound of a pencil shedding off it's layers onto the paper. Though we were getting much different results, we were essentially doing the same thing. It is a bond we have. Compared to the next room where people were talking and the television was blaring, it was quiet. Somehow I focused on the sound of our pencils in choir together as we pushed them along separately.
I have been watching a lot of Art 21 on Hulu. Even though nothing I have seen on that show has made me want to go do what those artists have done, I find myself getting addicted to the idea of getting addicted to an idea. That is essentially what most of the artists on these shows are doing. They are finding energy in returning to basic ideas and displaying it in new ways.
This morning I woke up to an email asking me to check out a link with The Art Department. There are some fantastic previews about sketching and developing an idea that goes along with everything I have been doing and thinking about lately. I am a big fan of the guys over at Conceptart even though I have no desire to become a freelance illustrator. The sketching tutorial by George Pratt hit the mark with me this morning. He gives a lot of great sketching advice. His bottom line is to not worry about being accurate. Worry about getting down an idea.
Something that seems blatantly obvious to me over the last few days is that it isn't my duty or obligation to lead the viewers of my art in any particular direction. I can't possibly know what kind of thoughts go through their minds as they look at what I have to display any more than that model had on me while I saw her as a queen. I certainly have no control over it even if I make a close guess. What I can do is put down an idea, as accurately as the moment allows, and let nature take its course. It is absolutely pointless to concern myself about what someone else might find pleasing or displeasing. I believe that has always been my barrier between showing my physical art in the public and just uploading a picture of it on the internet. I fear the thought that someone will see only the flaws that I see once the work is done. In truth, I am keeping my genuine response closely guarded so I don't have to face being wrong. What is wrong with being wrong? If I learn something from it I can free myself to be wrong about something entirely different the next time. You see, once I do figure out how to get it right I move on to the next thing I am doing wrong anyway, so it is a silly fear.
I read this in Art and Fear well over a year ago, but it is just now sinking in.
Quick Link Review:
Art 21 on Hulu
The Art Department