"Don't wait for inspiration - it comes while one is working." - Henri Matisse
Good Friday to you all! How are you feeling? Today we're going to really put those sketchbooks and pencils to use and begin drawing! Now for those who are not skipping and dancing at the thought of drawing, I'd like to open a quick dialogue.
Firstly: Drawing for the vast, vast majority of us is a learned skill. Very few come out of the womb ready to work up detailed renderings of botanical illustrations or human portraiture! Like playing piano or doing the triple jump in track and field, it is a combination of brain-learning and body-learning. The more we draw, the more we teach our hand the lines and shapes we want to create. This is truly muscle memory! Let's think of this as educating our hands to draw, whether we've been drawing for years or we're just beginning. And while we're at it, let's think about how you would treat someone who was just learning how to make a certain shape or to render an image. They're trying to figure it out, they're studying shapes, they're giving it their best; we'd treat them with compassion and patience. Your hand is that someone! Have patience with it (and with you), holding the knowledge that practice brings both comfort and skill.
When I'm working through a grand plethora of ideas, when I'm searching for new ones, when I just need to step away from the work on my easel or smithing bench, I'll often pull out my sketchbook and just try to get my hands moving.
There is a common practice in writing wherein writer will set a timer or set a number of pages and just write. The idea is that you'll begin by putting down the things you know, the things at the forefront of your mind, the things that "should" be put down. But somewhere along the way, you will step past all that fluff and hit on some deeper truths, thoughts or ideas - the things that might not have been accessible to you right off the bat. This is akin to "stream of consciousness" leading to the real heart of the matter, and absolutely an exercise in intuition! That exterior begins to fade back and the interior dialogue / knowledge becomes clearer.
It is in this same spirit of cutting through the fluff, of exploration and listening that we will be drawing! On Wednesday I asked you gather a few objects from your home or surroundings. These are your starter points, your reference objects. As I've said before, sometimes nothing will cause one to draw a blank faster then facing that big empty page! As you sit with your sketchbook and your array of gathered objects, pick one thing that you feel particularly drawn to, and begin loosely recording it on paper. This is just for you, just for your sketchbook, your reference, your tool chest of ideas, so nothing needs to be perfect! If you feel your judging mind start to step in, ask it if these objects really need to be realistic OR if they can just be recognizable (there's a big, big difference between the two!) OR if they even need to look like objects! Look at it from different angles, see if there are any patterns you want to draw, any lines that seem interesting to you - even if they look nothing like the object as a whole!
As you draw, check in with yourself: was there a particular shape that felt good to draw? Draw that shape some more - I have filled pages with just leaves or mandalas. Did a thought pop into your head? Write it down - this is a beautiful way to tap into that internal inspiration! And if no thoughts have come yet, then do you want to move onto a different object? If you find yourself honing in on one small corner, or one small detail, ask: does this feel good? If so, keep at it! If not, stretch your arms, give them a little wiggle, shake up that energy and listen in for what feels good.
No matter what, just remember a couple key points: (1) we're strengthening our eye-brain-hand communication - building those new synapses and teaching our hands new muscle memories, (2) your sketchbook is yours, there is no judgment here, and (3) all of this is an exploration; we're just stepping up to inspiration from all different angles, listening for what feels true and right, for what turns us on and lights us up. ANYTHING GOES.
Week 2 Home[play]: Putting it to Paper
Your home[play] for this weekend will be to create Exploration Pages. Have some goodies on hand to look at, but if you're in a pinch (or you already ate your pomegranate), even some photos of interesting objects will do. Set a time (no less than 10 minutes, but I like giving myself about 20 for this exercise) or an amount of space in your sketchbook to fill (I did one 8.5" x 11" page in the video above) - but of course if you want to draw longer or turn the page, DO IT.
Begin with the object you're most drawn to and begin sketching - this can be as simple as making a silhouette or picking out one detail. Repeat shapes as they feel good, make notes, make big sweeping moves with your hand, move on to the next object as soon as you feel done with one, and basically allow your thoughts to follow your fingers. You're just exploring, seeing what comes up, what associations may rise, what small shapes, ideas or marks you are attracted to, allowing your intuition to speak through your hands and fill up that glorious tool of a sketchbook!
Pencils up, papers down ladies!
Have a grand weekend and if you feel called to share your pages in the FaceBook group, well, we'd LOVE to see them!