A Sketchy Plan

I haven’t kept a regular sketchbook for a while now. The itch to sketch faded last year after I started life drawing classes, though while I was overseas I managed to do a sketch per week. I do miss it, though. It was fun, exercised my artistic ‘muscles’ and I get a lot of satisfaction from looking through the completed sketchbooks.

This year I’m going to the same class, but drawing the faces of the models instead. My intention is to start doing portraits, and this is great practise and a warm-up for the ‘real thing’. It’s surprising how intimidating it is to draw a model’s face. It feels much more personal that drawing a naked body. I need to get over the reluctance to stare at someone’s face as well as learn to draw it well. Especially when nervousness on my part is going to make any sitter I work with feel less comfortable with me staring at them.

I’ve done some truly atrocious drawings, but also some that I’m not ashamed of. While I decided not to post pics last year in case anybody found drawings of naked people objectionable, but that shouldn’t be a problem with portrait drawings so here are a few:

I’ve noticed that I’ve stopped obsessively trawling through art and drawing blogs lately. I’m hoping this is because my search for direction is over. Drawing faces is proving to be even more of a challenge than I expected, but I feel like I’m learning something and making progress. It’s all about building up skills of observation right now. Later I’ll have to find a technique and medium that I like and is distinctively mine. I’m attracted to two quite opposite approaches: realistic black and white pencil drawings and abstract, colourful slap-it-on oil paintings. I guess I’ll have to try both, and see which I like better.

My teacher said last year that to be any good at art you need to ‘do it more than once a week’ – and, well, I already know she’s right. I’m thinking of holding a craft day again, and see if my friends will spare twenty minutes to sit for me. And I’ve been trying to sketch a few faces from a reference book of facial expressions one night a week. I do them in a sketchbook, filling pages where I’d faltered last year.

It’s making me want to reclaim that little weekly ritual of sketching the world around me and playing with mediums. Today I caught up with some of the art blogs I’d been neglecting and found a lovely post on Senioritis by Danny Gregory. It’s so much easier to do nothing. But so beneficial to exercise your powers of observation and get in the zone on a regular basis.

And it would be a great way to gain a bit of short term satisfaction in my lifestyle of year-and-a-bit long projects.