Yesterday I did a crazy thing.
And no, I did not paint my hair pink.
Armed with my favorite Hard Rock Cafe sweatshirt and a whole lot of positive self talk, I braced myself for a tough morning and dumped out 10 months worth of daily sketches and drawings.
In someone else’s house. For her to look at. In public.
Not hidden away in my studio, not in the back pages of my planner.
On the floor, for everyone to see. Even her husband.
I had made my mandate very clear. I was not looking for praise, certainly not. I wanted a full on critique. And so with her (she’s an illustrator and graphic designer), we looked for links, themes and tried to breakdown the groupings of pieces. We tried to forge a direction for me to move in, for which purpose? I have no idea. But I knew that without having someone else’s opinion, I would continue making art in the cracks, not really knowing where I was going.
And I’m not going to lie, there were tears. And maybe not for the reasons you might think.
All the flaws jumped out at me. All I saw was everything that hadn’t been. The terrible color selections, the 15 bad lines instead of the good one, and all the in betweens.
But the tears really came when she verbalized what I had been holding onto: the plain fact that it was obvious to her that this stuff had been brewing inside for years, if not decades.
That it was not just doodles, but a body of work with clear progress, themes and direction.
She did not discount the simplicity of the color triads, or chastise me for relying on the ease of the pencil sketch. She did not point out that this stuff has all been drawn before, by masters. She did not once ask about the intention or the story behind anything. She singled out the pieces that attracted her, she sorted out what didn’t, she used the word playful.
I am forever indebted to her
You have these moments in our lives that stay with us, despite so many other forgotten memories and events. But yesterday was a moment similar to an experience I had in Drawing From Observation, a class at Dawson with David Hall. By then end of the 3 hours, the lines on my newsprint converged into a beautiful and graceful nude. And I promise you to this day, that it was not me drawing, but another person or force. Like an amnesiac waking from a spell of forgotten time, that day in the G wing, I remembered I could draw, despite never really knowing how.
And now, well, I have no choice but to keep going.