I got Betty Edwards’ Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain from the library recently and started teaching myself something I thought I couldn’t do. It’s a remarkable book. It turns out, drawing isn’t about some innate artistic quality that some of us are blessed with and some of us will never know. It’s about learning how to see, and to capture that on the page. Sounds so simple, doesn’t it?
Most of us never learned how to see. We draw the way we think things are, the way we’ve been taught things look. We draw the main features of a face, maybe a few lines for proportion, but we don’t really notice—the line of the lashes, the corner of the eye. It’s a bit like how we live the rest of our lives, maybe, mechanically, not noticing.
I bought all these art supplies—thick pads, watercolors, pencils, erasers, a heavy, gold sharpener. I felt a little guilty, buying so much of it at once. I have a habit of picking up and dropping hobbies constantly, and I have lots of remainders of the hobbies I’ve left behind in closet corners. But I’ve been putting these to good use, and in just two weeks, I learned to draw things I thought only real artists could-a realistic hand, the corner of a room in perspective.
Drawing (or painting) is a magical thing. It’s one of the very few things that shuts up my overactive mind (other things: writing, if I’m really lucky. A vigorous hike. Great sex.) When I’m drawing, it’s just about shapes and lines and color, and all my thoughts fade away. I’m especially eager to do travel sketching on my next journey. I wish I had this for my last trip—a pocket sketch kit is a lot easier to carry around than a guitar, and I imagine my friends would have loved handpainted postcards from a small town in Bolivia. The next one, though.
These days, I notice things. The curve of a dry leaf, the silk trim of a dress, teasing sunsets But now I see them all as potential subjects, little treasures I could keep, if I just sat still for a little while and put something on the page. It’s a lovely escape.
Into The Wild (via sun-hawk)