I bet you were wondering, amidst all this philosophizing and weaving, whether I was actually doing any drawing. The answer is yes, I’m devoting about an hour a day to practicing. I just haven’t posted any photos because gesture drawings and contour drawings aren’t really intended as drawings; they’re exercises, and not all that visually interesting. It would be like recording and posting someone playing finger exercises on the violin.
However, today at lunchtime, while taking a break from contour and gesture drawings, I drew a pencil sharpener that didn’t turn out too badly:
It’s not Art, but the proportions aren’t too far off, and it’s recognizably similar to the subject. That’s all I’m asking for, for now.
One thing that has really struck me in Art and Fear is this passage:
The ceramics teacher announced on opening day that he was dividing the class into two groups. All those on the left side of the studio, he said, would be graded solely on the quantity of work they produced, all those on the right solely on its quality. His procedure was simple: on the final day of class he would bring in his bathroom scales and weigh the work of the “quantity” group: fifty pounds of pots rated an “A”, forty pounds a “B”, and so on. Those being graded on “quality”, however, needed to produce only one pot – albeit a perfect one – to get an “A”. Well, came grading time and a curious fact emerged: the works of highest quality were all produced by the group being graded for quantity. It seems that while the “quantity” group was busily churning out piles of work – and learning from their mistakes – the “quality” group had sat theorizing about perfection, and in the end had little more to show for their efforts than grandiose theories and a pile of dead clay.
So for drawing, I’m not limiting myself to the exercises in The Natural Way to Draw; instead, I’m reading through Keys to Drawing and doing those exercises as well, and – beyond that – practicing drawing in any free moments. It’s like a friend said about writing – you learn to write well by writing a couple thousand pages of bad writing first. The first thousand pages are guaranteed to be bad. So write them as fast as you can, working on improving them as you do; the only way to good writing lies through all those pages of terrible, awful writing.