Saturday, April 5, 2008

Back in the Game?

When the challenge for the month of March was issued, I immediately thought of the perfect way to make me (or anyone else for that matter) notice details - draw a picture or take a photograph.

I've always wanted to be able to draw better and a couple of years ago, I took a course at the local art center at night.  The teacher was very tolerant of my beginning efforts and I showed up for every class, including the ones where we were asked to draw the human figure from a living, breathing model.  Thinking about that class now, God bless the model.  She'd visit each easel at the end of the modeling period and see how we had portrayed her.  All my renderings of her looked vaguely alien, but she was always very kind in her comments.

In any case,  I decided that I never got good at drawing because I never worked at it diligently.  When I took the class, I didn't draw outside the structured classroom time, and to get good at anything, you have to practice at it daily.  I thought this was the perfect opportunity to see if I could stick to some kind of schedule and get better at drawing too.

The project as I conceived it fulfilled my personal goals for this challenge:  I already had a sketchbook and a set of pencils so I'd definitely be within my $10/month limit for project supplies; I've wanted to practice drawing so that I'd improve the diagrams of projects I'd hope to undertake; and I thought drawing daily would be fun.  My objective was to draw one thing every day, however small or trivial.

Here are the results of my efforts to notice details:

I didn't manage to draw one thing per day, which was a personal disappointment.  The goal didn't seem that outrageous.  But there were days when I got home so late from work that I just didn't have the energy to tackle a challenge.  I did try to stretch myself by trying a cartoon figure, drawing designs from memory, and putting some of the objects of my attention in context (my art teacher always used to pass by my easel and ask me why the fruit/bottles/cans were floating in space without any reference to other objects).

I thought the challenge would be fun but it wasn't.  I discovered that I do not think drawing is fun.  It is not relaxing for me.  I couldn't wait to be finished with each sketch I was doing and get on with my knitting.  As a child and young adult, I never just spontaneously drew or doodled.  I suspect that people who draw or doodle would not necessarily pick up knitting needles, so I am content with this.

I feel more confident about my drawing now - I can at least put a name to each object I drew which is some comfort.  As a result, I have more confidence in recording ideas in sketch form in a project journal.  And it certainly is true that if you draw something (or in my case, try to draw something), you remember it very clearly later.   There are details of the palm plant and the flooring tiles, for example, that I never would have paid much attention to had I not had to draw them.

The challenge also made me look at other artists drawings.  I'd ask myself, "Would I be happy with that if that werre my work?"  I was surprised how many times I'd decide I'd reject the piece because I didn't think it would be good enough to publish/sell/publicize.    Never mind that the drawings were all published in art magazines.  To me, they were not particularly attractive.   I suppose much of that criticalness is merely taste.  But the March challenge did made me think about when something from the craft table is good enough - maybe not perfect, but okay.  I'm still working on this notion of good enough versus perfect versus it's done let's move on.  Settling that in my mind is for some other later challenge, I suppose.

So, I am now off to consider April's assignment.  I have already decided to use fiber, no matter what Sharon throws at us.  I've noticed that most of my fellow challengees are needleworking.  I think it's time to stop bucking the tide and get with the needle arts program.  Also, to those of you have been left comments, I only have computer access on the weekends so I am not intentionally ignoring you if several days go by without a response.  I just don't have the capacity to read and publish your comments more quickly.


Marjorie said...

Hi, Bernadette: It looks to me that you gained a lot from the March challenge. What fits into your life. What you like to do and not do. What you enjoy. Observations about the work of others. I think your sketches are quite nice. I've also strugged for years with drawing and have, like you, tried to force myself to do it and I also can't seem to relax into it.

I do better when I have an end purpose. Not to sketch to have a sketch as an end product but to sketch as a basis of an embroidery or other needlework project.

I'm quite impressed with your challenge results. Marjoire

Christine said...

I really like your drawings, you have a good eye for detail, Bernadette. The doodle thing is also very hard for me, my Nana spoiled it for me when she said "a doodle is the sign of a disorganised mind" (!!!) so I have always had problem just making marks on paper at random. I also am quite good at deliberate drawing, like you, but don't practise nearly enough. Good on you for making a start, keep it up and you'll notice an improvement.