Keep making marks

a bunch of coloured pencils

Coloured pencils. Flixelpix David/Flickr, CC BY-NC 2.0

Note: this post includes drawings of a nude model. If you are offended by this, do not scroll.

Last night I started a new term of life drawing at my local community centre. I have done a few terms before but have had a break of about 9 months due to running a conference, a 5 week trip overseas and generally too much time at work.

The teacher of the class is brilliant at what she does – both the drawing and the teaching. (Check out Pina Bartolo’s website and her Facebook page.) She seems to be doing what she loves; contributing her unique spark to the world.

Life drawing is a difficult art. You need to get things looking real enough so that the viewer sees a human form but also somewhat beautiful enough so that what you have is enjoyable to look at. I find it very challenging. With training in botanical and zoological drawing, I often end up going down the track of producing material of fact rather than flair. But I enjoy this challenge and, quite frankly, being mindful of the thoughts going through my head (like ‘that looks awful’, ‘what should I do next?’) and actively turning them around or just pushing through them to keep going.

Drawing is very much an accumulation of marks and the beautiful thing is that you can draw a line elsewhere if you’ve got the knee joint in the wrong place or the angle of the shoulder wrong. As you keep making marks, where you think they should be, the more ‘wrong’ marks fade away but still show depth in the artwork.

I was smiling to myself last night hearing the teacher’s encouragement and explanation of what life drawing is. She put it out there and said it is hard. A few things she said really resonated with me:

“As the artist you just need to make the best decision you can from what you see. Each mark might not be perfect but you have to keep making marks. Each mark adds something.”

“I use the mistakes to push me into a truer place.”

And those words I take with me into my non-drawing life. I take them as a reminder to not give up and to keep inching towards my goals.

Here are a couple of drawings I like from last night, where I was pushing myself by using different styles.

An image of a charcoal drawing of a man on a stool

A 10 minute drawing of Pete from life drawing class. October 2014

A straight line drawing from life drawing class.

A straight line drawing. October 2014.

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