This morning I started my drawing class, my first since 1986. When I sat down, blank paper and oh-so-subtly-shaped model in front of me, I was very nervous and excited. Now I’m just excited. It was so much fun. And it is so clear that nothing but committing to a class would get me to draw for three hours straight three days a week. I feel a great unblocking happening, like a river of ice breaking up. So this is what I’ll be doing on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday mornings for the next four weeks. (Morning classes are perfect because the munchkin is in school 9-1. Bilingual preschool, two hours of each day in Spanish, two in English—perfect.)

Drawing is so magical. I can never get over the small miracle that occurs when I manage to just draw what I see. (Getting eye and hand to align is, of course, at least half of the challenge.) It takes a leap of faith to do that, not to draw what I think is there but to draw the weird, foreshortened shapes appearing to my eye, and then a few minutes later, when I pause to look at the whole thing, lo and behold, I’ve drawn toes that look like toes. That foot looks tucked under the other calf. Those shoulders look like one is close and the other is far away and like they could actually hold up that head. These are the moments that make the hard work worthwhile. What a strange practice, just to strive to put on paper what anyone could see if they took a few moments to gaze at the body itself. But I see it more clearly for having drawn it, which is part of the point.

Thursday and Friday mornings will be collage time for the time being. I’ve just learned that the secret to the color-saturated, textured surfaces of two collage artists I admire, Eric Carle (of children’s picture book legend) and Jan Richardson, is painted tissue paper. And Carle, bless him, explains on his website what kinds of paint he uses, etc. so that someone like me can try it out. I was so jazzed after class, felt so much more freedom to carry out the visions in my head, that I went to the art supplies store and got tissue paper, watercolors and brushes.

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