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drawing essay
and now, a few words on DRAWING

what i really want, of course, is to be a magician.  work magic, snatch lightning from heaven, perceive the fires of the cosmos, make little kids laugh and fair maidens gasp, aye, on and on  ... never a dull moment.  trick is, how do you do it?

the skill of drawing seems to me to have most of these elements:  something appears from nothing, from nowhere, takes life form and depth on the blank page, stirs emotion and conveys information ... MAGIC !

drawing drawing drawing drawing

how to do it?  i hadn't the faintest idea.  this was not on offer at the schools of my youth, clearly based on the strategy of Bore These Kids To An Early Grave (much like my church-experience of the era - Death By Monotony.)  some kids could draw without instruction, some couldn't, that was the state of affairs, and thus it remained. and so, time went by.

until one day, i came upon a book. (story of my life, 'i came upon a book')

DRAWING ON THE RIGHT SIDE OF THE BRAIN, by Betty Edwards ... a book about learning how to draw.

the book emphasized my experience:  in school, they said:  'you can't speak French? we can teach you how - here's lesson one.'  'you can't draw? - you can't draw.'  well, says the book, 'we can teach you - and here's lesson one.'

point, here - they could not in fact teach me French - not in a stuffy neonlight classroon, with all the world calling to me from beyond the window, every bush bursting into the green flame of spring, Timbucktoo just over the horizon, and the Canterbury Pilgrims riding by... French came later, in the streets and salons of Paris and Montreal, in living colour - et voila, je me debrouille, plus ou moins

the book made the promise: you can learn. then it emphasized the point with an illustration: a BEFORE and AFTER effort by those who'd taken the course.  that was true inspiration - they got from there to there?  if they did it, maybe i could do it too.

time went by.  more time went by.  i hung onto the book, always meaning to buckle down and do the sequential exercises ... when the time was right ... whenever that might be.  started once, twice, again, faded away, made resolutions, watched them wilt like unloved houseplants. i kept notebooks, jotted and scrawled and doodled, became a printmaker, became a sculptor, designed gardens, all requiring some sense of design - but never managed to learn 'how to draw'.

until finally, and WHY? HOW? WHY NOW? the moment arrived.  1st January 2007, in fact, a good starting point - it was becoming apparent that the shoulder replacement operation was not carving-friendly, and other charming health issues were working their way through...

'life is too difficult to bother with anything less than the most important things'

'be brilliant, in the short time available to you'

i had by now assimilated the most powerful tool of function i've yet hit:  'one day at a time'  using that one, you may move the mountain. i already had, in fact, for that's a reasonable description of what it took for me to do that Honours BSc  in Osteopathy, starting from ground zero, never studied in my life ... worked up to an honest five hours a day, anatomy pathology physiology and so forth, year after year, studying in the day, working for money in the evenings - saints preserve us!  one day at a time

if i did that, surely i could do this?  and so i started the same way, at the desk, by the clock, an encouraging coffee to hand, working through the exercises.  the first one, interestingly, was to copy a drawing upside down - the point being to change the way one perceives the object, in order to be able to draw it: Drawing On The Right Side of the Brain.  the initial every-morning hour soon became two; and after that all through the day, sopping up the spare moments, waiting for this or that, riding down the Tube or whatever - a sketchbook that'll fit in the pocket, and a larger one on the desk at home.

a million years ago, one of the joys of my theatre degree was the World's Most Bumbling Professor - not one clear thought in the dear old gentleman's head, it was amazing.  one girl in the class sat there knitting away as he put us all to sleep, and i thought 'she at least is getting something out of this time'  as the golden hours of youth trickled by  (i'd rather be in the pub!)  so now the sketchbook and the pencil have become my own way of using time rather than spending it.

drawing drawing drawing drawing

having started, somehow i've stuck - 'well begun, half done' - and the ongoing drawing has become a twofold path, as research to projects and as a process in itself.  still the print is a favourite medium for me; am now enabled towards more complex creations.  one thing the books discuss is 'drawing as a form of meditation', being a means of altering one's state of being, working towards the 'Alpha State' of meditation. i've seen this in friends who seemed to lose themselves in their artwork, Penny and dear Jeffaree, and had some experience within the disciplines i already practised.  like everything else under the sun, it seems to go up and down, but it does go onward.

were these pages from the shelf of sketchbooks to be judged as finished products, i'd be too embarrassed to put them forth.  as snapshots of an infinite work-in-progress, they have their own validity.  it all continues, to the present day.  the final wisdom of that book, and the others i've accumulated, is 'keep doing it' - it'll come.   to coin a phrase, one day at a time.

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