“…art is the kind of hard work that brings you to the bleeding edge of your ability and makes you stare hard at your limitations.” Sadie Jernigan Valeri
That quote about sums up my last week – smack up against ability and limitations both. This is really hard stuff, drawing in the classical tradition. I honestly sometimes want to quit, but I don’t. My eyes hurt, I struggle with my glasses, I get blurry eyed, my feet hurt, I make slow progress and any illusions about being one of the naturally gifted students fly out the window as I learn more humility… struggle with my own self expectations and make a study of determination.
It was a rough week in my personal life. I OD’d on looking at the best current figureative artists out there today. I felt small. I put away my brush and pastel for a while just to focus on the drawing. Classical study is a task master. That task master seems to like to join up with my inner critic for a beat-fest that lately has been taking the joy out of the work for me. I was self-taught and I was happy within my own little world – I played with pastel and colored paint, making up pictures and selling some – but I always knew I could be better, that I was mediocre. I wanted to learn the classics, to learn to really draw so I would have a language to rise above that mediocrity, if I could. I wanted to do that AND stay safe within my little art bubble. Well I got my little bubble burst. I see now that the classical study, for me… is a way of life that is changing up fundamentally how I approach being an artist. But sometimes… I want to go back into the bubble. Impatience works against me, but determination drives me forward. The honest truth to “why do I do this, why do I do something that I struggle with so much?” The truth is I do it because there is no other honest way for me to be, I do it because I must. I have met no one that understands these feelings, and the feeling of being small. I would have thought that many artists struggle with this stuff – but I talk about it and I get looked at like I am an alien. Ah well, it might be the poet in me as well. It is not an easy path to be both poet and artist.
Technically this week I ventured into identifying shadow shapes in both the live model and the Bargue. Jonathan Chorn critiqued us. He had me go back and delineate the shadow shapes in the Barge more clearly than I had done. In the figure drawing class he helped me with my on-going struggle to sight-size; to fit the model into the “box”. This is the hardest challenge for me. I spend a good hour in the three hour class just looking for the fit. Once I got it, Jonathan helped me to do some measurements to better capture the pose and showed me how to start marking in the shadow shapes.
All in all I was not disappointed in my work this week… the struggle was more personal and about myself as an artist. Next week with the hope of a new season will flow better…