Only one more week remains of my drawing class, and I think I’m going to take another. I’m having a great time, I’m learning a lot, and I think it will take a few more months of daily practice for me to really learn, deep in my bones, that I can pick up the pencil and make good things happen—that it’s still a joy to do even when I don’t like the results. Right now, on my no-class days when I’ve promised myself I’ll draw, I still have a reluctance to start. I have done two drawings on those days that I’m happy with, though, a portrait of my daughter and one of myself. The latter is old hat—all art students draw themselves a zillion times—but drawing the munchkin was a big step. I have often wanted to, but the prospect of falling short, as I would inevitably do, and (so I imagined) messing up this face I adore so much . . . *shudder.* It was a breakthrough to give it a try. The drawing and the falling-short.

It’s amazing to discover how much fear I have around art. I knew I was scared of drawing, but I’ve been sobered by how intimidating it is even to make collages–as if I have forgotten how to play when it comes to art. This morning before art class, I had a chat with a woman who’s teaching a collage workshop in the studio next door, who said several things I know to be true and want to keep in mind re: making art, all in the friendly tone of someone who faces these demons all the time herself:

-It’s all an adventure, full of surprises. Just follow things where they lead you and don’t be too attached to any one version, or too dismayed by dead ends.

-The unexpected places the pieces will lead you are what make art so rewarding to do.

-Fear is a sign that you’re in new territory, not staying in a rut.

-Everyone has these doubts about their abilities. We know from Michelangelo’s writing that he was dissatisfied with his work.

-Being afraid isn’t necessarily a problem, but thinking there’s something wrong with being afraid is.

Something else that has helped dispel fear over the past couple weeks has been the love that’s welled up as I look so closely at some little piece of the world. I fell in love with a plant in the grounds as I drew it, and was sad when I came in this week and found that the gardeners had pulled it up! (Another student said “But you memorialized it!”) Drawing people, even the strangers who model for us, makes me feel like I love them. Their bodies are so beautiful! (Do they know it? Can they possibly look in the mirror and see themselves with that appreciation for how wondrously made they are? I hope so . . . ) I find myself, not only thinking “I have to get that curve of shoulder right, it’s so gorgeous,” but feeling like it’s personal: that I want to do right by these people and their beautiful humanness. That feeling last week made it possible to go home and draw my daughter.

Here are a still life finished today, a few of the ten-minute figure sketches I’ve done in class, and one longer pose (the one of the female model). I was so happy drawing the flowers, and so taken with their luminous colors, that I bought soft pastels after class and am going to try out color with another still life before we resume class next Monday.

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