Friday, September 21, 2018

Seven Years on This Journey


Seven years ago today, I began a drawing habit. Every year on this anniversary, I indulge in long-winded introspection about my practice and process. Last year I got so long-winded that I had to divide my musings into three posts (part 1, part 2 and part 3). I’ll spare you this time and keep my commentary brief:

During the first couple of years that I was sketching, I showed the most growth and improvement. My learning trajectory was mostly straight up simply because I went from never practicing to practicing daily. When that improvement started to taper off, even though I was still sketching as much as ever, my biggest fear was that I would eventually hit a plateau and never get past it.

In the years after that, I continued to see incremental improvements – not the more gratifying leaps I made in the beginning, but still mostly steady movement in the right direction. Every now and then I slide back discouragingly, but somehow I always get back on track. Rusty whenever I return to life drawing after a long period, the nuts and bolts eventually get oiled again. That recurring pattern has given me reassurance that my creative progress looks more like a series of rolling hills rather than a rocket (an insight I had even when I was just starting).

11/17/11 Here's a self-portrait I made directly in ink within two months
after I started sketching. Rather brave of me, huh? I see I cleaned up my
eyebrows! ;-)
The last two years I made a concentrated effort on formal learning by studying a total of 25 weeks with Suzanne Brooker at Gage (first with color, then with graphite). More recently, Eduardo Bajzek changed the way I responded to values by giving me a new take on graphite. And all of that learning has led me to experiment with teaching myself how to understand values better (see yesterday’s post). I no longer waste energy worrying about when I’m going to hit a plateau. Instead, I’m hopeful that I’ll always have some capacity to continue learning.

Perhaps the most gratifying part about my journey is simple: Now when I look at a sketch I’ve just finished, I’m more often happy than unhappy. But regardless of how I feel about that last sketch, the important part is this: I always turn the page and make the next one.

(My previous years’ anniversary posts are here: 20162015201420132012.)


12/1/11 When I first started, I wrote a lot more commentary to accompany the sketches than I do now. As a lifelong
journal keeper, I was more comfortable writing in public than sketching, so when I felt nervous, I often
wrote notes like this to relax before starting the next sketch.


  1. Thanks for this post. It's a life long journey. I'm watching Sketchbook Skool "Watercolor Rules". Older English artist Ian Sidaway speaks about still learning new things. I'm happy to have shared some of this journey with you. And you've led me to think I might expand the number of paid workshops I attend. I've been limiting myself to one a year but there's no real reason to do that!

    1. Thank you, Kate! Yes, it IS a lifelong journey, and we've been on it together for most of the way!

  2. I have seen such a growth in your sketching recently. I think the life drawing class had a big impact, and the workshop with Eduardo has really helped you do some really lovely graphite and color sketches. Values are so important! Congrats on 7 years!!!

    1. Thanks do much, Joan! I always appreciate your comments and observations on my blog!

  3. Congratulations, Tina! We surely can learn more by remembering that last sentence you wrote. "But regardless of how I feel about that last sketch, the important part is this: I always turn the page and make the next one." I like that!

    1. Thank you, Mel! Here's to all of us turning the next page in our sketchbooks!

  4. I salute your dedication and growth! Fun to watch it develop.


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