First Day Back and a New Six Month Goal

School is back from winter break and I got a warm up last Wednesday back in the studio with the live model. This was my first time back since end of October. What surprised me the most was that I thought I would be starting from ground zero again after so long away. I thought I had forgotten all I had learned. I approached setting up the sight size block in with the trepidation I was accustomed to.

It was amazing how smoothly everything went. I mean I was able to come back to my “spot” and fit the model in the box on the paper faster than I ever have before. That was my biggest struggle during my first six month drawing goal. When I say struggle I mean that I would sometimes spend the first hour and a half of drawing time just trying to keep the model in the box. I wanted to just walk away so many times. Happily, this time it happened almost naturally allowing me to move on to the next foundational struggle.

For the next six months I will be doing live model sight size drawing once a week, and cast drawings twice a week leading into the study of grisaille painting. In the beginning I will also be working with Lisa on a Bargue outside of class. I am also still working on the Holbein copy which is actually giving me a lot of joy even though it is going really slowly. I am also providing part time admin support to the school.

With that I start my new six month drawing goal. The new goal is to draw every day for at least one hour. This does not include my painting, or my pastel work but actual academic drawing study pushing my eyes and hand each session. That will be easy on school days where sometimes I easily log 6-8 hours.

That sounds all well and good but here it is, the real goal – simply to stay in school. No matter the day to day crisis, illness and other craziness of life – just show up for class one way or another. Life is intense, art training is very intense – and the two sometimes conspire to sap me of my life force making it hard to even show up. This has always been a struggle for me so this is the most important goal for me in the next six months. Learn balance as well as drawing. Learn stamina as well as seeing. I say this here as a way to be accountable the next time I think I cannot do it.

Six Months Reflection

One goal done, a new one begun.  Before I move too quickly into the next six month goal, it’s important to look back at where six months of drawing has taken me.  First I want to thank each of you for taking this ride with me for the last six months and invite you to stay on for another run in the atelier student adventure. I hope to make you proud!

When I started at the Neoteric Renaissance School or Art six months ago I did not “know” how to draw. I drew… I got lucky sometimes – but I could never draw what I was trying to draw to the level that I wanted to draw it. Now I am not talking being able to draw at the level of Leonardo, I just wanted to be able to have an idea and draw it out. Set up a still life and draw it so had some resemblance to the real thing instead of leaning on abstraction and impressionism to compensate for my lack of fundamental drawing skills.

I am not saying that the artists who create in those forms do not have skills. I am saying I hid behind modern technique because I had no other option. Expression is about having options in the way you want to say something. My wanting to learn to draw is very much like wanting to speak Italian having no basis for speaking the language except to say perhaps pizza and lasagna.

Now, I have spent six months learning drawing and the hard process of practice, incessant patience, correction and humbleness. I know a few more words in Italian and I can even form simple sentences. I am just starting verb conjugation. Apologies for the extended metaphor – but it says precisely what I mean to say.

People say the proof is in the pudding and I have some pudding to show you but I don’t think in art the proof necessarily lays in the pudding. There is so much that happens behind the scenes when a student is learning, so much that happens on the inside. Sometimes you can grow in huge steps, really important growth as an artist and not be able to show it yet in your output. That happens to me often. It takes a little while for my hands to catch up with my heart and mind.

In the last six months, probably the two most important things I have learned is that

1. I need community. I need those brothers and sisters in art to give me a compass for where I am at and where I am going.

2. “Just let yourself be a student.” Lisa said one afternoon outside the studio when I was exasperated with how I short I fall in my desires to express myself as an artist. This was priceless advice and some of the best advice I have ever gotten in my life in general.

Anyway, here is some pudding. You can see where I started and where I have gone. – And in it I can see a glimpse of where I am going and therein lays the hope.

PS. Best quote this six months:  “…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

Drawing When I Began:

Drawings Six Months later