Last week I was too busy with family things to do much in the way of drawing or other creative endeavors, but last night I had the time to go back to the figure drawing session. I wasn’t going to post this, but I think it is so much better than last week’s drawing that I am compelled to show that I can do better. I worked on this for 2+ hours. Foreshortening is seriously challenging for me, but what a fun struggle after all!
I am fortunate in that I live in a college town and there is a free figure drawing opportunity on campus. I had time to go last evening and it was great to 1) have a person stand still for long enough to really study and to work on a drawing for more than a few minutes, and 2) draw with others who were also working hard on getting it “right.”
I only worked on one piece of paper the whole time, but I made (and mostly erased) 4 or 5 different versions. Not sure how I feel about the overall picture, but I am pleased to say that the likeness is close enough to the model that I think you could pick him out in a crowd.
As I’ve said before, I’m working my way through the Drawing Projects (Maslen and Southern) book. But I’m burning out a bit on the actual drawing exercises. I mean, in the end, there’s not too much new to it. On the other hand, I’ve enjoyed the interviews with artists and the reproductions of their work. One interview was with Charles Avery, whose work I was somewhat familiar with, but I had no idea that he does not work from life or any other reference. Everything is coming from his head. Woah!
So I was thinking about that last night when I couldn’t sleep, and I decided to try drawing without reference to anything as well. A moment later a vision of Death sitting and waiting by my father as he was dying came to me. (Perhaps because yesterday was my father’s birthday.)
Here is what I drew and I’m surprised by what I was able to do, even though it does not capture all of the aspects I saw in that vision in my head. For one, the man in the drawing doesn’t really resemble my father. And I didn’t do a very good job of Death squatting, hawk-like, over him. At the same time, I like how Death seems to be more like a caretaker than a feared or threatening figure.
I like to draw people, but it’s hard to find anyone that’s willing to sit for me, so I end up doing self-portraits. Here are three that I have done in the past month. I’m still working through the Drawing Projects book and I think my drawings are evolving bit by bit.
I also managed to sneak a quick portrait of my father-in-law while he was watching our vacation slideshow.
I recently told a friend of mine that I am most inspired to make art when I see great art, but I’m inspired to write when I read bad writing. This is for the most part true. But perhaps there are times when I see art I like — or even just artists out there showing their work and trying to make a living — and I come back feeling like I may as well give it up.
This weekend is Bloomington’s annual Fourth Street Arts Fair and there was a nice variety of artwork and craftwork. Many things were new to me and some were inspiring. So why then today do I feel as unmotivated and hopeless about my own artwork as I ever have? Perhaps it’s the heat. Perhaps it’s the lack of solitude. (The family is home from school and work for a long holiday weekend.) Perhaps it’s seeing art I like but can’t do, or being confronted by the reminder that “these artists are out there showing their work and trying to sell it and what am I doing?” or maybe it’s something completely different.
It reminds me, though, of a book I read (actually, listened to) at the beginning of summer: The War of Art by Steven Pressfield. He talks about the resistance to doing the thing you are passionate about. It is a painfully true book, and I do believe I’m suffering now from some of that resistance. But it comes down to this: no matter how I feel right now, I know that I cannot stop making art. It doesn’t matter if it’s good or bad, sells or doesn’t, if the world sees it or not, I have to make it for my own sanity and well-being.
So there it is.