Day 16 and 17

I’ve been teaching myself to draw.

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Day 16 & 17

I remember my parents going to Saturday morning life drawing at place riel growing up. I was always struck by awe by those rough drawings.

The way the lines flowed; the simpler the shapes the more majestic I thought it was. You could convey power, grace, tension, serenity, all in a few rough charcoal lines.

Then there was the nakedness. The hidden suddenly revealed, but not in a glossy, bedazzled spectacle like in those magazines. This was real flesh and blood, these people laughed and sang and jogged and rode the bus like anybody else. Yet here they were laid bare in their most intimate of selves on the paper. It was exciting to be able to be in the presence of these bodies just for the sake of bodies. Not to compare or seduce or diagnosis just to be.

I wanted to keep them. I wanted to paper my walls in these drawings. I don’t think I was ever allowed to, or maybe I forgot to ask, assuming something so holy to be off limits for such an everyday purpose.

I’ve always been too shy to draw myself. Drawing is not one of my natural born gifts like my father has, and there always seemed to be too many rules that I didn’t understand. I followed other creative impulses and let those drawings sift down to the back of my mind until recently.

I’m now on a mission to teach myself to draw. I boldly started drawing every day for the first week, swearing that I would maintain the habit for the next three months or until I was happy with my drawing abilities which ever came first. I now recognize the same two things I usually do with these bold impulses: 1) I can’t sustain that kind of intensity of practice, and 2) I will never be happy with the final product. So I’ve stopped trying for either and am instead focusing on enjoying the small moments along the way.

I love how the pencil feels in my hand. I love smudging the lines with my fingers and staining the tips an ugly black. I love the meditative act of really truly observing what I am trying to draw. I love discovering the shapes that develop. I love trying again and again to get it “right”, and failing, and trying harder. I love learning new things about how I work.

Here is a collection of what I have drawn so far:

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A poem called Inspiration

The wind feels like it might tear the roof off of the house,
And I would be exposed;
Ironic and unhumorus,
A present not wished for.
To love your work is to burn it;
To love your work is to tear it open;
To love your work is to sever it;
To love your work is to devote your life’s blood to it.
There is something to be said for austerity.
Humility will only get you so far as a life practice.
Sometimes you need to lie
Bear the bones of it,
Tear back the flesh
Piece by piece,
Until there is nothing left.
Then there is a feast to be had.
Under the fingernails of doubt
There is a tiny fleck of hope
That might actually be worth something
If you could only dig it out
And bury your face in it,
To hope for that day
The roof opens up above your bed,
While you lay awake,
Letting your best ideas
Escape out the feather pillow.

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