Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Learning to Draw

I’ve never received instruction on how to draw, and I’ve never had the patience to try to teach myself. As I mentioned in a much earlier blog post, I got a book about cartooning when I was a kid, and just traced over the pictures instead of going through the steps to learn how to draw them myself! This year, I am really interested in learning something about drawing, and maybe even getting into a “sketchbook habit.”

To that end, a couple of weeks ago, I checked out several “how to draw” books at the library. The book titles caught the librarian’s eye, and she said kindly, “Oh, is someone trying to learn to draw?” I said, “Mmmm-hmmm.” And just as I was weighing whether I should explain that it was ME, she added, “A little one at home? That’s nice,” and continued scanning the books.

I have thought a lot about her comment, and all that it implies. I think many people might figure, “Geez, Lady, you’re pushing 40; if you haven’t learned how to draw yet, it’s probably not going to happen.” I think other people think of drawing as something kids do, as a form of child’s play. After all, don’t I have bigger responsibilities to attend to, more “important” matters to conduct than trying to get the angle of a jaw or the shading of a nose to reflect reality a little more closely?

I like the idea that drawing—even thinking about drawing—is making me look at things more closely. I am amazed by the shadows I notice on people’s faces, now that I’m considering what it would take for me to draw them. I’m also amazed by how so many people have features in real life that would look like a really bad drawing if you saw them on paper! (That sounds mean, but I really just mean that no one actually has perfect proportions, flawless skin, “textbook” eyebrows, that sort of thing.)

I am noticing inanimate objects in my daily life that have a significance that usually goes unrecognized, but I am taking note now as I think about how I might portray them in a sketch book:  the oh-so-precious morning cup of coffee, the box of tissue now in heavy rotation in our household, a bottle of nail polish, the sippy cup, the wooden Noah’s Ark.

My cat is getting greater attention as I wonder if I could capture that crazy pose she adopts during her morning lick-fest, her steely gaze when the girls descend upon her from opposite ends of the sofa, her evident sense of entitlement as she settles down on the warm seat I’ve just vacated.

I’ve made very, very few efforts to capture these bits and pieces of life in my sketchbook yet. Right now I am looking at the pictures in my drawing books, recreating the drawings others have done before me, trying to gain some confidence before I “draw from life”.

I am new to all of this—in a way, it does make me a child again, encountering something new and jumping in feet first to see what I can make of it. Maybe the librarian was not so far off after all, conjecturing that there was “a little one at home” interested in learning to draw. It just so happens the “little one” resides inside a grown-up’s body!


Jennifer Ward said...

Great reflection, Andria. I especially loved and related to your last point - reconnecting with the "little one" inside. Thanks for the inspiration! I know I'll be thinking about this post and carrying it around with me for the next few days.

Lookin' forward to the next post!

A "Freakin' Angel" said...

I love this post, Andria! Why should our desire to learn, create, and grow stop when we hit a certain age? Check out the Community Arts Center in Wallingford. They have beginner drawing classes for adults. And I think the Wallingford-Swarthmore community classes that start in late Feb. also had something to offer.

Unknown said...
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Unknown said...

I have internally cringed many times as I check out books (particularly those that I'll "order" from other libraries), waiting for a comment from the librarian. As they've never commented, I wondered if there was some sort of "rule" that they aren't allowed to make comments on the books/ types of books people check out. Apparently that's not the case!
Part of why I love the library is that you can experiment and explore different hobbies, topics, authors, etc., without investing anything more than time. Happy drawing!

Andria said...

Thanks for your response to my post, Jen! And thank you, Kim, for telling me about the Community Arts Center; maybe when the girls are both in a preschool class in the fall, I could look into a drawing course. Kristin, I always know I'll get a comment on my selection from the very friendly check-out girl at Borders. I've finally learned to smile and chat, instead of cringing and wishing she wouldn't call attention to my purchase!