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An awareness of limitations

Last evening I taught a drawing class.  I hadn’t taught in a long time.  It felt amazingly wonderful!  I think it’s important to pass along knowledge.  I only have one student right now, but perhaps  more will come along as time passes.  I’m using bits and pieces from my own experience, lessons learned from Betty Edwards, Juliette Aristides, from past tutors and instructors, and from studying the masters.  Just preparing for the first class taught me a lot and reminded me of much that I’d forgotten.  I’ve made a commitment to myself to spend at least fifteen minutes a day drawing.  I’ve been drawing as a precursor to a painting.  I’m going to spend time drawing for the sake of drawing.  It forces me to slow down from my usual breakneck speed and to curb my impatience.

I’m reading a book called Lessons in Classical Drawing by Juliette Arisitides in preparation for teaching my class.  I applied her techniques (techniques of the masters, actually) and was astounded at how much easier it made drawing.

The simple drawing below is definitely no masterpiece, but I’m pleased with it, because I used the techniques I’ve been studying and found they worked.  Making art doesn’t always feel good.  As my instructor Ted Hogsett said, “A student of painting must paint and paint and paint and paint.  There is no easy way.  No short cut.  He has to know everything there is to know about this profession and constantly seek more.  Each new day is a new challenge and presents new problems to solve.  No one ever reaches the comfortable position of knowing it all.  Each new work contains unknowns never faced before.  Always, there comes a point in every painting when the artist feels a sense of groping, the awareness of his limitations.  That’s the way it is and should be.  No one has ever found the total answer, therefore, we all remain equal in our race to find it.”

Every time I paint something I wonder if I can do it.  I’m not talking about a little tiny “wonder”.  I’m talking about a huge “wonder” – a newly discovered continent-sized-wonder.  Reading in Ted’s notes about the artist’s sense of groping and awareness of limitations comforts me and gives me hope.  I know now that I should expect these times of doubt and just hold on and keep pressing on until I emerge on the other side.

Day One of my Daily Fifteen Minutes of Drawing


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