A friend is just beginning to learn to draw. We’ve had many conversations about learning to draw, so I didn’t hesitate when she made this request: She had just sketched her coffee mug, and she wondered if she could send a photo of it for me to draw. Her purpose was to see what I see when I make a drawing so that she might learn what she’s missing.
I sent her my sketch (at left). I pointed out that her mug may look simple, but it’s actually deceptively complex: The shape and proportions of the handle, especially, aren’t easy, nor the subtle curvature of the sides. When I saw her sketch, I gave her positive feedback about the parts she had captured well. She realized she had missed all the shading that made my sketch look “real,” and she didn’t like the hard outlines in her drawing that aren’t seen in reality. We had a good discussion afterwards about light and shadow and how they are used to render form.
Her sketch immediately brought to mind my sketch of my smiley mug dated Sept. 28, 2011. I had made it just a few days after I had made the commitment to learn to draw. Seeing this sketch of Smiley moves me because it’s such an expression of innocence (I had no idea yet how challenging learning to draw would be), determination and optimism. Although I remember the excitement and anticipation I felt about embarking on this adventure, I also recall vividly a familiar anxiety: Would this just be yet another attempt (one of many) to learn to draw, ending in quitting yet again? How long would it take me to improve (“improve” being an undefined term)?
My friend has been through a few cycles herself of drawing/quitting/drawing/quitting. I sent her my sketch of Smiley, hoping she would find it encouraging, and she did.
We all begin somewhere.