on drawing again

pastel still lifestill life | pastel, charcoal and gesso on kraft paper

I used to draw a lot. Majoring in illustration meant it was a priority for four years of my life. I spent hours in the classroom and at home drawing and painting everything: hands, feet, still lives, nude models, cartoons, doodles. It was necessary practice, and often part of my homework.

After graduation creating art fell by the wayside. After moving I simply did not have the space to set up a studio. Drawing and painting can be very messy and often means leaving that mess out for several days (or weeks) while the piece comes together. Creating in a shared space is incredibly difficult, so it became a lot easier to work on less space consuming projects. Graphic and web design became my new passions. Each project was nicely contained to my hard drive, I could work virtually anywhere with zero cleanup required.

I absolutely love working digitally, but it often feels like something was missing. I’ve always loved working with my hands, creating something physical that can be touched and held afterward feels special. A second move meant I now had studio space, and I started crafting and scrapbooking to fill this void. But I rarely picked up a pencil or charcoal. I started paintings, but never got past the underdrawing. My passion for drawing and painting wasn’t there.

Late last year my husband signed us up for a one day drawing workshop at the Art Gallery of NSW. He also likes to draw cartoons, and thought this would be a fun activity for us to try.

Drawing again for the first time in over five years was strange. I felt stiff at first. My hand wasn’t doing what my mind wanted it to. After ten minutes I realized I was holding the pencil wrong. Suddenly I could hear every drawing and painting instructor I had in college saying in unison, “Draw from the wrist!” Things went smoother from there, but I was reminded of another saying a professor used to often say, “Everyone has 10,000 bad drawings in them. You have to keep practicing until you get to the good ones.” I was still in the under 10k range.

Maybe I’m being a little hard on myself. I do rather like my pastel still life. Once I started holding the tools correctly the drawing came together well. I especially loved the colors, though my use of compliments outed me as someone who’s “done this before” to my fellow workshop goers. And the smell of workable fixative being sprayed took me right back to my college days.

Will I keep drawing? I’d like to. I have the space now, I just need to set about reacquiring all the tools I left behind when I moved to Australia. Getting my hands dirty again was a lot more fun than I expected it to be. I also have many ideas floating around in my head for drawings and paintings, many gift ideas. I guess my 2015 resolution is to get on that. Christmas is less than 12 months away…