Thursday, 13 March 2008

Week 1: Going to a drawing class

A week by week account of drawing again, after several years of not doing it,
not being able to find the book (Marion Milner "On not being able to paint", I think) that might have rescued me from the absence of art in my life.

“we have decided you’re too good”
this is inescapably about me as about the art
I thought that I could not get back to my art because I know enough to know that I am not good enough. It is more complicated.

Other friends have the same problem – they can do a bit, they go to lessons for a while, and then they stop. Like dieting; like the gym?? Or just only like art.

Will I be sidelined again like the four year old? – we have decided we don’t like you. But these women – all women in the class except for one man – are not four year olds, they are sixty plus some seventy plus. And they care, or seem to..

why do they want to complain? to be negative? do they really hate what they draw? I don’t think so

In the first class, we choose an old master postcard to copy. I pick a group of people arranged nearly symmetrically with some building behind; there is a man in breeches and jacket with curls spiralling out of his head, and then women standing around gesturing and dressed in flowing classical garments, Later I turn over the card and find it is the wise and foolish virgins. But what I notice as I draw is that each person holds something – a vase or a hanging fruit basket; they hold it close to but not touching their bodies, creating a negative space that is a pleasure to draw.

The feel of pencils and erasers, the smell of sharpening a pencil, the wood and graphite warmth.

This is not too challenging. I have my sketch book – started in 2004 when the world was different, with pages marked in stiff desperation to know I could still make a mark of some sort.

As I draw I gradually invoke the old techniques – the outlining of a negative space, capturing a curve by drawing on the page while looking at the source – eye tracing; rubbing into the picture, rubbing out and adding much fainter The rubbing out creates a mess on the page, strange patches of shading and white that offer me a place to put new marks and a way to arrange those marks. This is what I love, the chanced mark that miraculously becomes an eye – it says “eye” to the viewer. The conspiracy of art.

I am not blasting back to art but tiptoeing, delicately pushing my pencil to re-inhabit old skills.

As ever, time passes unnoticed. Nothing hurts like it does when I type; my neck relaxes.

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