Two years ago today I started drawing. (My first day of drawing was actually determined by the second day and the third day and every day after that that I kept on drawing instead of quitting as I had in previous years, all the way up to today.) A year ago when I wrote a retrospective post about my first year as a sketcher, I focused on the path that brought me to that first day. Today I ask: Where have the past two years taken me?
One way to look back is to review my progress, so I did something that I haven’t done in a long time: I pulled my first couple of sketchbooks off the shelf and thumbed through them. The sketches in today’s post are all from my first few months of sketching. (If you ever feel discouraged, I highly recommend looking through your old sketchbooks!)
It’s gratifying to see that regular practice leads to progress. But even if I continue practicing at the same rate that I am now, I know that I can’t expect the same degree of progress going forward as I experienced during the past two years; I think at some point everyone levels off, and then the changes are usually more subtle.
But a more important difference isn’t apparent from my sketchbooks. I think the single-most significant change since September 2011 is in my confidence in my own ability to learn. I’m certainly not confident that I can draw anything I want to – I still get cowed by plenty of subjects (a complex building, vast landscape, trees, cars, fountains – my list of sketching nemeses continues to grow) – but I’m confident that I can try. I’m confident that if I keep trying, I’ll probably get better. Two years ago, when I saw a challenging subject (in other words, everything), I probably would have avoided it, or hemmed and hawed for a while and then given up. But most of the time now, I study any subject for a few seconds or minutes, and then I just sketch.
After filling more than 20 sketchbooks and posting well over a thousand sketches on my blog, I guess by now I’ve learned that the worst thing that can happen after making a sketch is that I turn the page.
The best thing that can happen? I turn the page and make another sketch.