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Sunday, August 28, 2011

Struggling with Drawing and How I Found Joy Again

Yeah, it's been a long time that I've posted.   We're going to hit it is, I believe, our 72nd day of 100+ degree heat today for this summer.  Only one day, in all of July and August, has been below a 100.  But relief looks to be in sight by next weekend.  To put this in perspective, we usually have 7, yes, that's 7 100+ degree days.  Over 10 times the norm here.  I lived through the Texas Heatwave of 1980, and that was, I believe 69 days.  So now, 30+ years later I've lived through another!  

I know I've got some of you that follow to see how Ginger and I are doing, if we are well, and how our journey in life is going.  Well, Ginger is still the most beautiful girl in all the world to me and, if this is possible, is getting prettier by the day.  We have wonderful weekends together, especially Saturday night date night.  We just, well, we just plain enjoy being with each other, talking, watching TV, and just being married to our best friend. 

But what I want to talk about is my drawing.  I stopped for awhile, and I'll tell you why.  Self talk mostly.  I'll explain.  I get a magazine that comes out every quarter called Drawing.  Love the magazine.  But as I looked at the drawings I felt that my drawings didn't match up, like mine were less than.  How am I ever going to achieve that, I would think.  I'm just an amateur, look at these people with formal educations in art, and then look at little ole me.  Seriously, a cross between being on the self pity pot and then wanting to please others with my drawing (yeah, if you thought of codependency just then, your on track).  In other words, I wasn't drawing for the love of drawing, I was drawing for others.  Hard pill to swallow.  What I wanted, what I want, is to draw for the love of drawing and if others admire my work, that's great, but it's not the only reason.  Don't get me wrong, I love drawing.  I love to have the pencil in my hand and get lost in the lines and half tones, and see a picture come to life in my drawing.  I find great joy there.  But I needed to get that joy back.  So let me tell you how the joy came back.  First, it started with me, inside my head.  I gave myself a little pep talk if you will (except in my head all the squirrels we're cheering as I gave the talk!)  I started from nothing.  When I first discovered the talent that God had given me I had a gift of being able to look at a picture and reproduce it.  As I've talked with other artists, this is just not that easy.  I've got techniques I've developed and as I've read about the Old Masters, they had techniques of their own.  But I would look at my talent and technique, and say, I'm not as good as...fill in the blank.  I learned to draw portraits with no formal education, again, another gift from God.  Can I improve?  Absolutely, but to be able to pick the skill up to do that is no easy task and I realized how much God had helped me in this area.  I began to look at my drawing as a talent God had given me and a talent that He continues to develop in me.  Would I rather have formal education or would I rather have instruction from the Creator of the Universe, who created the things I'm drawing?  In drawing from pictures, I'm far more advanced than drawing from life.  And I'd read about how most artists draw from life and think I'm less than an artist.  No I'm not!!!!  My gift just comes in a different form.  But as I've come to terms with these feelings inside me, and asked God for help, God met me right where I was at.  The conversation with my Creator went something like this:

God:  Who gave you the talent?
Me:  You Lord.
God:  Who helps you develop the talent?
Me:  You Lord.
God:  Do you need help developing your talent?
Me:  Yes Lord, I need your help.  I need You.  Will You help me?
God:  Yes, my child, I just needed you to ask.

Seems a simple prayer/conversation but even now I feel the emotion welling up inside me.  I've overcome so much adversity in my life and God is continuing to work on this masterpiece, me.  I thought I was too old to learn how to draw extremely well, I just had so much negative self talk going through my head it was amazing.  I've got a portrait of Ginger and I that I stopped working on because of one area where I didn't have the skill I thought to overcome.  And I didn't have any live models I could use to practice.  Or so I thought. 

The road to recovery, if you will allow me that term, began inside me and reaching out to God.  The next step I took was revamping the art studio in our apartment.  I had found a nice old table in one of the apartments at work, it's an end table, but it was pretty beat up.  So over the course of a couple of weekends I restored it.  We put it in the art studio, set a comfortable chair next to it and made a prayer corner.  Our art studio has four windows that allow the morning sun to come in and light the place up beautifully.  It is a place we can sit and read the Bible comfortably (we got a foot stool and Ginger got a pillow for the chair).  It is a place to meditate in the early morning or, when I'm drawing, for Ginger to come in and read as I draw.  We also got a stool for my drawing table that I can now look over my art work comfortably.  But the symbolism involved is what struck me.  We invited God into the art studio.  He had a place there just as He does in each of our rooms.  Not that He wasn't there, but it was a visual reminder, for me, that God is in control and there guiding my pencil. 

The changes didn't stop there.  I read a drawing article about a woman who decided to draw each day for a year.  One of the things that struck me about the article is how, when she blogged, she began to get addicted to the responses, checking constantly to see what people thought of her drawings.  How I related, to the drawing, and responses.  This article is what set this whole process in motion.  It's why I stepped away from blogging for a little bit, and began searching myself as an artist.  With that in mind, I got a Drawing magazine that had instruction articles from beginning to advanced and purposed myself to begin with the beginner articles and learn those things that I had just kind of brushed over.  I started, in some areas, from scratch, and began learning about things like perspective and such.  I LOVE to learn.  And as I began that journey something happened.  Joy.  God was guiding me.   Drawing simple things like cubes and cylinders and spheres, I was having the time of my life. It wasn't about what would so and so think of this, it was God, the pencil, and I.  Slowly, it didn't matter how long it took to get something, I just wanted to enjoy the process.

And then the final piece, so to speak, was the model.  And I had the most beautiful one under my nose.  I approached Ginger about being able to take pictures of her to do model studies and even draw her from life should I get to that point.  By the way, she said yes.  I haven't gotten to that point yet, I'm still on cubes, and cylinders and sphere's as I learn the fundamentals of shading and lines, etc.  And I'm enjoying the journey now.  Who knows where I'll be at in a year, I know one person that knows though, God, my Instructor.