These are four of my favorites out of over 20 ink sketches from figure drawing on Sunday. The idea was to sketch quickly, succeed or fail, and move on. When it comes to learning to draw, and pushing yourself to be a better artist in general, it really is all about failing as often as possible. Every shitty line you draw will make the one after it slightly better. Every failure allows you to learn what doesn't work. Sometimes some really cool stuff comes out of crazy attempts you thought would never work.
The other day I invited my friend Eric over to my house for a Friday night drink and draw. Drink and draws are one of my favorite art activities because they turn the process of creating art into a relaxed social event rather than the solitary introspective process that art can become.
While waiting for him to come over I began to work on a piece that I have had in progress for some time. It is a piece I really enjoy, but is quite complex and difficult to work up the energy to tackle.
When Eric arrived he admired my drawing for a minute then sat down at my table and requested paper – a lot of it – which he cut into small squares. He began to draw goofy doodles on each one and putting it aside. Each doodle took no longer than a few minutes. After a short time, I could see the fun he was having and decided to join him.
What a liberating practice his technique was! It reminded me of free writes, where you just write the first thing that pops into your head, regardless of what it is. We were doing the same thing with ink and paper. Some of the craziest patterns, images, and doodles were appearing on these tiny white sheets of paper, but in the flurry of raw creativity, some really cool, really funny, really bizarre stuff emerged. It was so free!
When my friend Juliet invited me to go to figure drawing this weekend, I got a pit in my stomach. I am so out of practice, and even on the best of days figure drawing can be an intense, difficult, mind-bending experience. I tried to duck out of it but she wouldn't allow me to once I committed - the sign of a good friend, one that will call you out!
In an effort to take the pressure off of myself to produce great pieces, I decided to replicate the night with Eric. Before leaving, I cut a bunch of pieces of paper into small squares and packed my ink.
Not surprisingly, the figure drawing session not only fun, but it was a breeze. Any time I didn't like what I was doing I set it aside and started over. The pieces of paper were so small that they forced me to focus on parts of the subject that I found interesting, boosting the efficacy of the composition and making the whole process more fun. I was definitely out of practice, but I didn't feel as bad about it as I would have if I was trying to created pieces in charcoal like I usually do.
These two instances were a reminder to me that art is fun, because art is freedom. On a blank sheet of paper, we can create anything our mind is capable of seeing. Anything. Nobody, no thing, not even your ego or your self-doubt, should limit that, or take the fun out of it.