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 ( , and ). 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
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: , , , , .)