Despite how much I’ve come to love oil painting, I will probably be doing more drawing and less painting in the coming weeks. Drawing is a learned skill for me, not something that comes naturally, and if I am away from it for too long, it becomes even more of a struggle. Although I do get frustrated at times and wonder if I’ll ever progress beyond the basics, I know it’s important for me to practice diligently. Improving my drawing abilities will likewise improve my painting.
So I sat down this morning and gave a little thought to where I want to focus my attention this week. The second project for Your Year in Art is based on empowering words, a sort of catch-phrase or affirmation to keep in mind while doing any art work.
My first reaction to this little assignment was disappointment. I wanted something more substantial, something more direct, something more instructive. But the book, of course, is designed to give starting points to artists at all levels of creative ability. It’s not meant to tell anyone how to create. Its purpose is to guide the creative process.
So, empowering words. I wracked my brain a bit, considered several possibilities, but nothing seemed too inspiring or too encouraging. Finally I settled on peace of mind.
Last summer I discovered the meditative, zen-like qualities of drawing. It was an awesome experience, and for a long time afterward I looked forward to my drawing time, letting myself get lost in the movements of mark-making, letting the time slip by unnoticed. My drawings from that time period showed tremendous improvement.
Now, I want to go back to that blissful place. I want to draw for the pleasure of drawing, not simply because I’m trying to complete an exercise or assignment. I want to sit quietly, feeling the pencil in my fingers, watching lines appear as I relax and connect with some muse within.
Peace of Mind.
This has become my mantra for drawing — not for this week alone, but for a long time to come.
I browsed around a bit and found a collection of instrumental music, then sat down with my drawing paper and a set of pencils. But what would I draw? I considered sketching a peaceful, pastoral scene, but that wasn’t what I wanted to work on.
I headed off to Pixabay to look at reference photos using “peace of mind” for a search. I found just what I needed — the face of a woman. I changed it a bit and concentrated on drawing her face.
My drawing time slipped away before I knew it, leaving me with only a very rough start. Right now my shading is all over the place, but I enjoyed my art time today. I felt a new sense of freedom as I played with a dark 5B pencil and made bold strokes for her hair.
Tomorrow I want to sit down and practice shading, all the while enjoying the process and feeling very much at peace.
What can I say? This felt good. It’s filled with imperfections, and I don’t care. It felt honest and authentic, and I’ve been searching for those qualities in my art. I’m pleased with the start I’ve made, and I’m looking forward to my quiet drawing time tomorrow.
If you were to choose your own empowering words for art this week, what would those words be?