I keep commitments, even ones made with myself. When my girlfriend Carey suggested I do a 30 day challenge with her I said, “it would be good for me to draw for 30 days, but I’m not going to make that commitment.” I was afraid to commit to something I would later resent. She pushed and I conceded after imposing some rules for myself.
The drawings would be small, simple, drawn with a large brush tip sharpie, and done quickly. No pencils, erasers or digital undos. I get too wrapped up in the details of creating. I thought my rules would prevent that, and hopefully help me to care less about the final product.
I kept my commitment and stuck to my rules. Except for the quickly part. By the end I was spending twice as much time on a drawing.
On day 1 I drew the living room windowed doors, my view while seated in my recliner. I did all 30 drawings in the comfort of my living room.
I started the journey without knowing what I hoped to gain. I can draw but I hardly ever do. That’s always bothered me. I’m not sure why I don’t draw, and I’m not sure why it bothers me that I don’t. At the end of one week I wrote in my journal, “I’m just trying to free myself from caring so much. That’s the point, to just draw for the sake of drawing.”
It took three or four days to get past the fear of a blank page. I was happy with how quickly that happened. After one week my first waking thought was, “what am I going to draw today?”
After two weeks I ordered the book Dare to Sketch by Felix Scheinberger. The book is a how to manual for sketch book drawing on the go. Everything he writes resonates with me. I especially love this page. “Where to begin?…It is your book and its sole purpose is to inspire trial and error! It is not a presentation portfolio. So begin with a deliberately bad drawing…”
The book immediately impacted my drawings. I discovered that I enjoyed drawing more with a pen low on ink, because I can get a sketchy looking line with variety of size and textures. This is the first drawing I did after receiving the book.
After three weeks I started dreaming about drawing. On day 27, while at the gym stretching, I caught myself staring at my shoe studying how to draw it. I drew the shoe when I got home.
What I learned
I figured out what I hoped to gain through daily drawing. First, I want to find the joy of drawing. Second, I want to start every drawing confident that I can experience the joy without the fear.
I’m not there yet.
I’m still trying to figure out what I am afraid of. It has something to do with expectation and desire for perfection. Picking a favorite of the 30 drawings is almost impossible because I see faults in all of them. I know how foolish this thinking is.
I decided that drawing number 29/30, would be my favorite from the series even before I finished it. I like this sketch partly because I expected it to be very difficult, and it came out better than I hoped for. Mostly it is my favorite because of the subject. I experience the joy of photography without fear regularly. I can get lost in that joy easily. Also, during this journey I thought a lot about how drawing is about seeing, and so is photography.
I can rationalize all the ways to conquer my fears with a change of thought, but that will only work if I keep drawing. I’ve ordered myself a proper bound sketch book and an assortment of marker pens, including some fine tip pens to draw all the details.
I finished the journey today by ending where I started, but this time I allowed myself twice as much time and as many details as I could work in. I realized that not allowing myself to get lost in the details prevented me from experiencing some of the joy that I’ve been seeking. I’m happy with the sketch.
More importantly I’m happy that I made this commitment, and happy for what I learned about myself. The next challenge is to conquer the fear of sketching in public. I’m hopeful that I will have something to write about that in a few months.