I Draw, Therefore I See

Drawing from life, daily practice, just showing up on the page.

In January, I made a commitment to myself to draw something–anything–every day.  I got a spiral bound sketch pad (Hobby Lobby, cheap!) which I tuck into my purse every day, along with a small bag full of pencils and pens.  It has become a habit to take out these simple tools and materials and sketch whatever is in front of me, wherever I am.  My husband, daughter and cats are my usual subjects because they are ever-present and available as models.  I have sketched my daughters’ volleyball team members, people in airports, my hand, other peoples’ hands, chairs, books, flowers, working men across the school from where I pick up Maeve. After a month of this practice, I see progress as evidenced by my ability to catch the essence of a subject in fewer yet stronger lines.

Frederick Franck, in his delightful and sensitive book: Zen Seeing, Zen Drawing talks about drawing as a practice for learning how to See (yes, that is a purposeful capital S). In order to really capture the spirit of a subject one must really look at its details; one must be fully present. It is actually quite exhilarating to be so involved in what I draw, and I am certain this practice helps lower my blood-pressure and keep my breathing steady.  Drawing relaxes me.  I don’t worry about how good the drawing is–I just move my pencil across the page. I try not to look too much at the page as I draw, and my grasp of the pencil is very loose.  Perhaps by the end of the year, drawing will be such a normal extension of myself that it will seem effortless.

Besides these small gestural drawings, I am also revisiting  books on perspective and proportion.  For instance, I am far more likely to get a good quick sketch of a hand if I understand what the structure of a hand looks like–if I have a blueprint of a hand in my mind. I go to Peck’s book “Atlas of Human Anatomy for the Artist” for these studies.  Although I still can’t remember the names of bones and muscles in a hand, I know what they look like!

And so I am off to draw again. My cat is yawning, perched and waiting for me to begin so she can jump off the table and into my lap.

2 Comments

  1. Hi Sharon,

    I’m wondering where did you get that quote “I draw, Therefore I See”? I’ve heard it before but don’t know where

    Reply

  2. could you email me at colinssean@hotmail.com ?

    Reply

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