Friday, September 21, 2012

Happy Birthday, Sketcher

9/21/11, pen, water-soluble colored pencils

A year ago today, I started drawing.

Of course, that’s not entirely true – I probably started drawing when I had developed enough motor skills to hold a crayon and move it across paper. I certainly drew plenty – and even relatively well – up until I became a teenager. But in the 40 years that followed, I had somehow convinced myself that I couldn’t draw, and therefore, I didn’t.

The “I can’t draw” voice took on different forms. As a young adult, I told myself and others, “I’m a verbal – not a visual – person,” and I channeled my creative energy and skills toward writing (not a bad thing – it’s how I found my livelihood).
9/24/11 pen

In my mid-40s when I became an artist (“Huh – maybe I’m a visual person after all”), I focused on organic forms that took shape and grew as part of the material process and abstract collages and paintings. When asked if I sketched preliminary ideas before setting out on these works, I always dismissed the question quickly with a snort, “Are you kidding? I can’t draw a straight line.”

Yet every time I saw the sketchbooks of other people (artists as well as people who would never call themselves artists), every time I read and reread books like Danny Gregory’s The Creative License, and especially every time I saw sketches done on location – urban sketches – that reflected a fresh, on-the-spot view of the world, it was like an elbow in the ribs from my psyche: “Why can’t I do that? What’s the big deal? Just pick up a pencil and draw.”

I’m not sure what happened on Sept. 21, 2011, that changed everything for me. Maybe I just got tired of getting elbowed in the ribs and decided to poke back. These are a few of the sketches I made that day and in the days that followed. I haven’t stopped since.

Happy birthday, sketcher!
9/25/11 pen, watercolor

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