A couple of years ago I got a little fed up with myself. I’ve always wanted to see if I could paint, to see if there was an artist lurking somewhere inside, but I think I was just afraid to try. It’s very easy to stick with what you know, in my case drawing, but I was even avoiding that. Although I could draw reasonably well, whenever I thought about drawing I thought I should be learning to paint instead and so I did neither.
I made two commitments to myself in an attempt to snap out of this unhelpful loop. This site’s Friday picture was one: a self-imposed schedule to make myself do something. The second commitment was deciding I wasn’t going to learn to paint for a year. This gave me permission to draw without feeling that I ought to be doing something else. This paid off and I absolutely rediscovered a joy for drawing that I hadn’t know for over twenty years.
That was back around Easter 2014 and I pretty much stuck to it until Easter of last year, when I moved on to phase two: spend a year learning to use colour, to paint, and to explore different media.
I’ll say this: it’s been very difficult. I’ve got better as the year’s gone on and I’m better than I thought I would be but I still have an awfully long way to go. It’s been hard to make myself do a poor painting when I could be doing a reasonable drawing. There is so much to learn and watercolour is so loose and unpredictable it couldn’t be more different to what I do with my drawings. Letting go of the need to be exact, embracing this, in fact, has been good for me and good for my drawing too but it’s not been easy.
Now the year is up I’m certainly going to continue to learn to paint. I’ve enjoyed the journey so far and I’m determined to get better. I have realised, though, that what I love the most is pencil drawing. I feel emotionally invested in my drawings to a degree I just don’t get close to with anything else. I’m not sure why this is but whatever the reasons my drawings tend to mean something to me, more than they mean to anyone else, and more than any kind of painting.
Here’s my favourite picture from the last two years. I’m walking with my son and daughter and my daughter’s friend to the train station. We’re off to the seaside and it’s all very exciting. A beautiful day and a wonderful memory that’s captured forever with bits of clay and graphite on pulped wood.
Pick up a pencil, start drawing now, and keep going.