I mentioned yesterday that I have been under the weather. Right now I am so tired that thinking is hard. I just wasn’t sure what I could write about today – I had absolutely nothing. Okay maybe that is not true but nothing felt right for today.
Then I opened my weekly Dover sampler. I love Dover samplers. One of today’s samples was from the book Perspective Made Easy. I tinkered a little and it got me thinking. Perspective is hard. We think of perspective as making your picture look 3 dimensional. It’s something that most artists struggle with.
As I am drawing my first challenge (a brick), something occurs to me. I don’t know about you but when I draw anything box-like, I start with the top. It never works out. I looked at my drawings and then I looked at the example. A brick or box is made up of 3 sides you can see and 9 lines. I realized that part of my problem is that once I had drawn the top, I couldn’t see how the rest of the lines are supposed to go. I didn’t realize that the lines are straight, parallel to the side of the paper (or are in this case). So I started with the corner lines – 3 random lines disconnected. You can see my shiny result as the darkest brick on the page. I was proud but it made me realize that sometimes the hardest part about perspective is not the part where we make it 3 dimensional.
So as I am thinking about this blog post and how I was going to talk for a whole page about drawing, I got to thinking about a time when I shared my work with an older artist. I was in high school and a teacher introduced me to her artist friend. That friend had agreed to see my work. I was so proud because I was taking my best pieces. Things that demonstrated my best ability to draw something realistic. She told me they were good but completely unfinished. She wondered where I was going to go with them.
I wanted to scream and cry because I was finished. I had drawn a picture. I can’t remember what I drew except one was a huge caterpillar. I had focused so much on my ability to draw that I completely forgot I was creating a picture. I stomped down all those teenage emotions and listened to her as she explained to me that art was more than drawing something. I took my pictures home and took a few deep breaths. Then I went to work.
I soon realized that she was right. As I added in background elements and filled the pages, the pictures changed. A simple caterpillar became part of a fairy tale. That’s the one I remember because it is the one that took me by surprise. There was a story in that picture, one that was aching to be told. I could have told any story but that was the story that came out.
So while I’m learning to draw better in 3 dimensions, my perspective keeps changing. I love how a simple act of drawing a box challenges me with more than artistic skills. I love how it forces me to look at things differently. I love how it brings up so many memories and feelings that surprise me.
What I love best is that it reminds me that it’s all about play and learning. I was a little frustrated after drawing that stupid box 3 whole times terribly. I know it was only 3 times but I’ve drawn boxes before. But it was all washed away when I drew it right. Makes me want to draw 100s of boxes just to prove I can.
I get that this is not life shattering but art is all about perspective. For a moment, I was a kid again with that feeling of accomplishment. Remember when the small things were huge. A box is just a group of lines but put them together and suddenly you can pull rabbits out of them.