So, it’s been a while since I have been here (actually, a LONG while upon reflection) and a short back-story might be in order. I decided maybe 6 months ago to become more adept at drawing, thanks to my gaming friend Bill “WhiskeyKetchup” (not his real name…er, the Bill part is, but the WK part is his gaming nom de plume) and the skill he demonstrated in his hobby. He created one of those “adult” colouring books for his wife and I had serious doubts upon first examination…it was WAAAYYYY too good to have been made by hand. Looking at other works he did allowed me to change my opinion and see he was truly skilled at putting marks on paper in appropriate places.
I’ve wanted to do this (sort of…kinda…) for a long time without really giving it serious thought or effort. Until now, that is. I asked him if we could do a weekly challenge, draw the same thing and compare the results to provide incentive to improve (as well as actually DO the work). He agreed, and this is week 6 of the challenge.
Today, while doing laundry, I spent my typical session (45 minutes by the “focus@will” timer I use for background music) originally doing a warm-up exercise of drawing the same thing 20 times, building incremental improvements with each iteration. I did not get the second one done…
I was drawing the coffee mug that was sitting beside my drawing pad, the coffee cooling and decreasing in quantity over time. It was about a third of the way into the second drawing that the problem focused enough to result in a [small, but reasonably valuable pile of head-hair ripped from about temple high on both sides of my head] need to determine what was going on. It’s not like I’m making something up out of the depths of my soul, memory, or imagination…the blasted cup was sitting 14 inches from my right hand. So, why could I not draw the silly thing?
It also should be pointed out that one of my principle goals in this (longish-term endeavor) is to overcome the tendency to draw icons and to put what I actually see on the paper. I “know” what a coffee mug looks like, and could “draw” one in a moment, but in this time and place, the problem wasn’t with the mug, but the handle. In iconography drawing, the cup/mug always has the handle coming out of the side of the thing. On the table, it was rotated about 30 degrees toward me (clockwise as viewed from the top) and so I could see part of the outer face and part of the inner face (the handle was not a tube, but more of a rounded brick shape, roughly rectangular in cross section with the corners rounded off). It was driving me nuts, as it was also a highly glazed surface, so reflections were noticeable on both the mug and the handle, and it was also partially in the shade (where the light coming through the sky-light struck mostly the far edge but some hit the handle as well), so I was having no easy time with any of it.
Instead of being a warm-up exercise, it became an obsession of it’s own, devouring the full time the last load of clothes took in the dryer…and then some. Half a page of badly drawn cup handles later and I achieved only the first goal: finishing the coffee in the mug (drunken, not drawn). Even while driving home after folding clothes, my mind kept returning to the problem of drawing a twisting ribbon in 3-space on a 2-D page.
I “know” what I have to do…so why is it so hard to actually DO it?
I suspect that the problem lies within the scope of the explanation I heard many years ago, that the key difference artists have over mere mortals is the way they SEE the objects they draw. To the extent I can “train” myself to look at my subject in the same way an artist looks (that is, to see it the same way) it will be “easier” to make the needed marks on the paper with the stick in hand. To stop seeing a coffee mug handle and rather seeing a smooth curve bending over, then down and back a little…until it meets up with another curve which also bends in an interesting way and changes value as it moves over a little to the right, ending with a sweeping curve upwards… and so on.
Despite how “easy” this is, it is proving to be one of the hardest things I’ve ever done…and re-done…and re-re-done…and erased and done over…and over…and…
And so, I’m home, several hours later, and still trying to recover from my brutal assault. At the very least, I have a badly bruised dignity and damaged self-worth. Yet, I suspect it is not going to be productive to file a police report on the mugging I took this morning…
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