Life drawing is my new hobby. It’s good to have a hobby, I’ve decided. In part, at least, to give me something to talk about other than my job which often ends up leaving me stressed out after yet another discussion about immigration policy and the fact that this government is pulling the funding rug from under the feet of every public service…
Anyway, the point was I needed a hobby to stop me ranting. And to give me a creative outlet.
Last night was my fourth time. The first two times I loved it. The hours flew by, and I’d find myself totally absorbed as I focused on the light and dark, the shapes, and the satisfaction of channelling what was in front of me into a picture that was in some way beautiful.
Two weeks ago I struggled big time. What had previously been therapeutic became a battle. I’d like to say that it was because the model kept moving, but really it was because I kept hitting a wall. Because some of the angles were out just enough to make it all look wrong. Because all I could see was a face I couldn’t draw, and feet that made no sense. Because my hand/eye coordination seemed to be blocking, rather than facilitating, the creative process.
I nearly didn’t go back last night. But I did.
I went back last night because I was always taught that practice makes perfect. As much as I want to reach perfection straight away, the reality is that being able to generate a beautiful picture (which I can see in my head though not on my paper) is actually a matter of hard graft. Until the required new way of seeing – the areas of light and dark, the shapes between shapes, the angles, the shadows – becomes second nature, it will simply be a matter of practice, practice, practice.
I went back last night because I was always taught that if you fall off your bike you need to get back on it straight away. My natural desire was to give up on it because I felt like I’d failed. Yet, somehow, in going back, I was trying to reaffirm my belief – applicable to so many other things in life – that setbacks should just be setbacks. Just because the elusive thing I’m striving for always seems a bit unreachable doesn’t mean I should stop pushing on until I reach it.
In fact, I can even see glimpses of beauty in the process itself. And I win a little battle when suddenly a hand really looks like a hand. When I capture the smile that plays around the model’s lips. When my thoughts and perceptions are sometimes falteringly, sometimes boldly; sometimes correctly and sometimes wrongly; etched onto the paper for all the world to see.
I get knocked down, but I get up again.