Not Pleased, But Proud

Showing off “failed” drawings is not a lot of fun, but I learn so much from them that sharing them is important. I’m not exactly pleased with this drawing of “a set of gears”, but here it is for your, ahem, viewing pleasure.

This is a fairly small drawing, about 1/2 of a 9 x 12 sheet of drawing paper. It was done with only a standard 2B pencil. It is, you can probably guess, not the sort of detailed drawing that I would deliberately choose as a subject, so if you’re thinking that someone else picked this drawing assignment, you would be correct.

That “someone” was Ashley Bane Hurst, one of the two art instructors who host “Gettin’ Sketchy” each week. The current season has ended now, but you can still take part. Each sketching session is recorded and is available on The Virtual Instructor channel.  Another season will be starting up later in the year.

As always, I tuned in shortly before the program was scheduled to go live. There, in the description, I read that Ashley would be sketching a “complex” subject in the allotted 45-minutes. A set of gears.

I shook my head. Nope. This was one I was going to pass on, for sure. And I might have done just that. I even jumped into the on-going chat and commented. “Gears? I think this one might be a bit too complicated for me. I think I’ll just watch.”

Ashley saw the comment, and in his best friendly art-teacher voice, he encouraged me to follow along, assuring me that he’d be breaking the complicated subject into workable parts. So, I grabbed my drawing pad and picked up my pencil.

The result, as you can see, is a sketch — I used almost the full 45 minutes — that bears a resemblance to a set of gears. It is not highly-detailed, and as we neared the end of the time, I put my pencil down without concerning myself too much with all the shading.

Ashley continued to work on shading long after the time limit expired. He worked another ten minutes in order to bring his sketch to completion. I watched in fascination as he added values — both dark and light — to the sketch.

I’ll admit to feeling a bit disappointed in my drawing, but I did give myself a pat on the back for going ahead and trying a difficult subject. And I dutifully carried my sketchpad upstairs to show my husband. He’s always curious about what our “Gettin’ Sketchy” projects are. I showed him my sketch knowing that he would assure me I’d done a good job. And, he did. It looked like a sketch of gears, he said.

Yeah. Right. Sure. Thanks. I returned to the studio, set the sketch aside, and then shut off the lights. It was time for bed, and I wasn’t feeling too good about my art at that particular moment.

And then, this morning, I came downstairs, and I looked at my 45-minute sketch of what is, definitely, a “complex” subject. Lo and behold! I saw a set of gears. Not the best gears ever sketched, and certainly a drawing lacking in strong values, but nevertheless a sketch that clearly shows two gears turning.

Even if I’m not completely pleased with how this turned out, I am still very proud of it. Or maybe I’m just proud of myself. I’m proud because I didn’t give up. I know there are times when maybe not participating in an art activity is the best choice — as with my woebegone water buffalo — but this wasn’t one of those times. This was a time when it was good for me to take a deep breath and push myself.

It was challenging, for sure. But I rose to the challenge. I followed along, and I learned more about graphite drawing and how to approach difficult subjects. So, yes, I am proud of myself, and I’m proud of this little sketch as well.


  1. Had work in a group exhibition years ago. $20 for up to 8 works. Oh good will put in everything I can find. Had a spare frame. Put a drawing in that I didn’t really like. Guess what sold?
    One mans trash is another mans treasure. Thanks for sharing.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. It’s always so interesting to hear stories like this. You’re right. We never know what will catch someone else’s eye — enough for them to reach right into their pockets. My reaction when that happens is (silently) “You really want that?” But, indeed, to each his or her own.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Absolutely! And I can thank Ashley for that. He read my comment, and he encouraged me to follow along as he broke it down into easier pieces. That’s one of the hardest things for me, you know. When I’m faced with a complicated scene, I really don’t know where to start. I’m learning to just lay in the large shapes, make loose lines, and go from there. Getting started is sometimes the hardest part of any art project. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks. I don’t feel that I can take a lot of credit for it since I just followed along step by step while the art instructor completed his sketch. It was quite an experience.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yes, but I couldn’t have done it on my own. Without the teacher there telling us how to approach it, I would never have even tried. 🙂


  2. Why are we so hard on ourselves? I think your sketch is awesome! I’m proud of you too for completing it. I seem to start things and get discouraged and not complete it. You inspire me to keep going! 🙌

    Liked by 2 people

  3. i finally got to try the alcohol was..interesting..the first one was shite, but i actually had fun on the second try..gonna watch more youtube videos. Ive seen a few that show wonderful pieces done with it…yay for new things!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I’m my opinion it is great for a first try. In my experience taking on a new subject can be humbling. I had a similar experience as you when I attempted drawing eyes. I wasn’t happy with the turnouts at first but with more effort and practice I finally nailed them! Take a look
    If you draw a few mor gears I’m sure they’ll only look better and better.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Nice eyes! Yes, practice definitely leads to progress. I doubt that I’ll be drawing many gears though. It’s just a bit out of my “interest zone”, although it was fun for a challenge. I’m glad I gave it a try.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I thought it was a very accomplished drawing when I first saw it. I love the honesty of your commentary- I personally embrace imperfection – it’s what makes us human and what we learn from, and we all have different relationships with that.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks. I have to admit the gears drawing turned out better than I first thought. I just have so many doubts still about my drawing abilities that I’m hesitant to try anything “complex”. The instructor really helped us break the drawing down into workable parts. I would never have been able to do it without his encouragement.


    1. Yes, and that’s exactly what this blog is all about. When I first started “Artistcoveries” I thought “What am I doing?” “What do I have to share about art?” I realized that it’s the journey itself that I want to share. I hope to inspire others to put aside those old notions that “I can’t draw!” and give it a try. Along the way, I’ve made lots of beautiful friendships with artists from around the world. It’s been a very good experience.

      Liked by 1 person

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