Wherever You Are… It’s All Right

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.

ReSized Ballet Dancer

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.

7 Comments

  1. “I’m not the best. I’m still learning.”
    The first part of that statement is extremely misleading because it suggests that there is a target against which you are comparing yourself. “The best” is an impossible goal because it is so subjective. Successful goal setting is totally dependent on the goal being achievable, otherwise it is a de-motivator. Nobody is ever really “the best” at anything, because “the best” is beyond definition.
    The second part of the statement is, and always should be, very true. In art, as in life, there is always the ability to learn. To stop learning is to withdraw from life.
    As for your ballet dancer sketch? It is quite good. You have given the girl depth as well as texture. She could be practicing a left foot position (although her head would suggest that she is looking at her right leg). She could be trying to resolve a sore muscle issue and, as you suggest, she could be simply trying a new position. The fact that there are various interpretations, all of which are quite feasible, should be taken as a compliment for your efforts in creating her. Keep practicing. Keep interpreting. Keep the artist in you alive!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks. No, no one is ever “the best” at anything, really, especially not in art. It’s too subjective. I guess my thinking in writing that was more along the lines of “I’m not the best I could be” — the main point being that I am still learning and will always be learning more about art. Being a newcomer with only 5 years of art experience, I do tend to compare myself with others more than I should. At the same time, more and more I’m realizing that I’ve accomplished a lot in these last five years. I have learned to draw. A lot of people never get up the courage to even begin, so I applaud myself for trying and succeeding far beyond my wildest dreams. To have gone from someone who truly could not draw a straight line with a ruler to an award-winning landscape artist in a few short years is something I’m proud of.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Hi Judith – I am going to give you just a little bit of a hard time here because “I guess my thinking in writing that was more along the lines of “I’m not the best I could be” is still unrealistic. If you have any drive to improve, you will never know “the best I can be” because there will always be that “I wonder if I could ……….” or, “I wonder how (insert name) managed to get that effect”, or any number of other critique type of questions.

    You should be very pleased with yourself and, despite the fact that we are our own worst critics, I am pleased that you are happy with your progress. Keep experimenting in both abstract and still life. Perhaps play around with landscapes but, most of all, learn and have fun doing it.

    You may be familiar with “The man who never makes mistakes, never makes anything.” It parallels with art very well in that you are going to have disasters, but you will learn from them and grow as an artist. 🙂

    Like

    1. You’ll probably like tomorrow’s post LOL. It’s all about how much I love drawing and how much fun I have with it. Yes, I’ve come a long, long way in five years. I may occasionally feel a little frustration, but mostly I’m very proud of what I’ve done. I never believed it was possible to learn to draw, so my successes have been far greater than I ever thought possible. The “Ballet Dancer” was an affirmation to me that I’m doing great. I think we all sometimes wish were were better at something we’re learning, but I know that wherever I am, it’s all right. Every time I sit down with a pencil and drawing pad, I realize again how much I love what I’m doing. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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