Today I’m sharing a quick graphite sketch I recently completed. It was done on Strathmore Gray Toned Paper since that’s what I had close at hand.
Like many other recent sketches I’ve shared, this Ballet Dancer was from an episode of Gettin’ Sketchy, a weekly free drawing program offered by The Virtual Instructor. At this session, artist Ashley Bane Hurst was up against the clock, facing the challenge of completing this figure drawing within forty-five minutes.
I happily drew along with him, and while my sketch isn’t quite as proportionately accurate as his was, I felt satisfied with what I’d done. That satisfaction came, in large part, from simply showing up and doing my best.
Often, when I’m challenged to draw along with other artists in real time I feel a bit… well, intimidated comes to mind. When I’m attending art club meetings or taking part in an art workshop, I sometimes feel very inadequate. Others in our art organizations are talented artists, many have taught art in elementary schools or high schools. Some have been drawing and painting for decades! And there I am sitting beside them. Me. With my obvious lack of talent. Me. With my five years of learning-to-draw experience.
With online sessions, it’s a bit easier for me, of course. No one is looking over my shoulder. It’s easier for me to relax, take a deep breath, and try whatever the project is — although, to be honest, I always feel a little trepidation when I log-on to a live drawing site. Am I really good enough to do this? That’s the question that still runs through my mind over and over again.
My Ballet Dancer drawing, however, gives me a feeling of accomplishment. Maybe it’s her own awkward, uncertain pose. She seems to be questioning her abilities, trying a new position, perhaps. With her careful look down toward her feet, she seems to be wondering, “Am I really a dancer?”
I think there’s a strong emotional connection between this dancer and me. I think we understand each other, and just as I would be quick to assure her that she is a dancer, she, in turn, tells me that I am an artist. Our message to one another is that “Wherever you are, it’s all right.”
Each time I see this girl, I hear her gentle voice repeating those words. I repeat them back to her, and together she and I will continue practicing. Someday she will dance on a stage, and someday I’ll once again have paintings hanging at display sites and in art shows. It’s been a challenging time for many artists this year. All of the usual shows for our clubs were cancelled. Our meetings were on hold, too, for a long time.
Maybe that’s why a lot of those questions and doubts returned to my mind. Recent months here in my art studio have given me opportunities to look deeper at art and to think more about myself as an artist. I’m not the best. I’m still learning. Sometimes I struggle. I need to keep practicing. But it’s all right to be less than the best. It’s all right to be wherever we are on the path toward improvement.
My Ballet Dancer reflects this new understanding that wherever I am… it’s all right.