Practice puts brains in your muscles.
It seems every year at this time I am free one Thursday morning and mark this day with a trip to TONY GRIFFIN’S ATELIER to sketch from a live model. The studio has figure sessions on Tuesday evenings and Thursday mornings each week. I brought the same sketchbook I used last year, with the renderings executed in that 2012 session at the beginning of the book.
My drawing practice over the last year has concentrated on methods that describe complete spaces fully. As an Urban Sketcher this often means using tools and approaches that are quick and purposeful. It calls upon “designer” thinking: how can I create something appropriate in the time given? I don’t have a month to work on a painting, some days the empty time is a total of fifteen minutes in the field.
After my sketch session this week I can see how a concentrated difference in focus changed the nature of my figure sketches over a year.
• USE PERMANENT MATERIALS AND DO NOT ERASE: If you wanted to drive 45 miles in an hour, would you break every ten minutes? No. When I stopped erasing there was an increase in the fluency of the drawing.
• ELIMINATION OF STRESS: The session was stress-free. A year of constant drawing from life in ten to twenty minute increments has loosened the line up considerably. A lot of anxiety can build up in a figure drawing session when one thinks of the weight of art history, personal aspirations, blah blah blah… Let it all go. We are all meat in the end. Draw the meat and leave the mental baggage behind.
• SILENCE THE EGO: In this session it was simpler to fully engage with the experience independent of an inner critical voice. The ego is a real bummer in the drawing process. I made a decision to power through every single drawing this past year, even if funky developments occurred. The result: all developments are just developments. Funky is in the eye of the beholder. Accepting the line is a way to use the line to your own purposes.
• FOCUS ON A GOAL: Having a specific design goal is key for my drawing practice. Targeted approaches work especially well for situations of limited time. Each drawing I did this year had a reason: to show a pattern of light, to record a tilt of the head, to show depth between figure and field. Wanting to do “ a good drawing” is too amorphous a task for me. It is a loaded gun. Getting a focal point and one formal goal accomplished is plenty to accomplish in a session of any duration.
Simplify everything. I look forward to seeing what happens in this next year of drawing practice….