This sounds like a great way to spend a Saturday…at Wave Hill, a gorgeous garden in the Bronx. It’s a free day of drawing, tomorrow. As the site suggests, drawing something forces you to slooooow down and really look at an object or a person or a place.
I’ve started a Friday morning drawing class, three hours, working with colored pencils, one of my favorite media. Last week we drew an apple. This week, the teacher was late and one of my classmates brought in 3 spectacular purple flowers from her garden — two iris and something I didn’t recognize. So we drew that.
Flowers are difficult! Lots of detail and minuscule streaks and shades, palest yellow and white. I blew the refraction effect of the stems in water — they look like they’ve moved to the side — but maybe I’ll fix it next week.
The teacher, who’s a bit ferocious, actually liked my piece, which was neat. I did it small and controlled, while my flower-bearing friend created huge, blowsy blooms blasting off the paper. It’s fascinating to see how differently we each see the same things, even side by side, and how we translate them onto paper.
After about two hours, we all get up and walk about the room to see what others are up to. There is a man who sits to my immediate left, doing a large drawing of a photo he took in his native Haiti. His style is loose, free, gorgeous, inspiring. I love being surrounded by talent. One woman is painting a butterfly on a bush, another a cat in a window. All of which demand technical skill, but — most important — the willingness and the ability to look at something really closely and for a long time.
If there is any skill we’re losing, even disdaining, in an era of continuous partial attention and screens filled with “reality” television, this is it.
“What’s happening here?” the teacher asked me, gently, pointing to a blank spot on my drawing. “Um, I wimped out,” I admitted. I didn’t quite know what to do, so I stopped. She helped me see the solution — erasing and moving a line — and I started again.
It’s so regenerating to learn, or re-learn, something creative. I used to draw for hours every day after I came home from high school. I’ve really missed it. But, being a workaholic, could barely stand the idea of three hours not working on a weekday. Pshaw!
Nothing I’ve done in years is making me as happy.
If you haven’t drawn something in years, sit still for an hour and try it (again.) It does take time, and patience, (and a good eraser and a thick piece of drawing paper.)It doesn’t have to be “good” or realistic. It just has to be yours, and pleasurable to do.
Whether you try to capture the essence of your kid or your cat or an apple, you’ll never see it quite the same way again.