I had stood, staring at what seemed like a massive expanse of paper, toyingly tossing my pencil back and forth between my hands for twenty minutes as he'd woven his way through the human obstacle course of 26 students, 26 easels, 26 drawing benches and 26 backpacks, jackets and portfolio bags. Every minute or so, I'd lean in close to my easel and make a series of light fidgety, squinty marks across my paper. Then, regretting it nearly immediately, I'd fiddle with my eraser...wondering if he'd notice if I used it, although we'd been distinctly told otherwise. I wasn't a rule breaker: just a girl who couldn't stand a misplaced mark. Sensing that he was about to orbit into my portion of the studio, I somewhat conflictingly made a few hasty marks across my paper. My eyes returned to the still life in the center of the studio just as he landed next to my easel. For a moment, his eyes traveled over my paper and then he just stood, watching me work. After an agonizing few seconds he spoke,
"You have good intuition and make good decisions...but you're overly insecure. Timid. You've got to just make a decision...and commit to it."
And that was the first real, true critique from the handsome British drawing instructor.
I chewed on those words for nearly a month, not wanting to believe I was creatively, artistically insecure. I'd convince myself otherwise...but late at night, I would stay up working on a drawing, only to realize that my pencil had not touched the paper for minutes. That I'd just been standing there...staring. Analyzing. Not committing. Drawing pictures that looked recognizable (yes, that is a tea cup...that is a table), but fussy, unnatural and lacking an energy which creative expenditures should offer. No matter how I tried to deny it, his critique had been spot on.
I continued to wrestle with this...until I met vine charcoal. Sweet, sexy, dark, messy charcoal. Vine charcoal is, quite literally, a stick of burnt wood. No pristine wood encasing like a graphite pencil...just burnt wood. The mess is unavoidable. There's no dainty, clean way to draw with it...it's a wonderfully smudgy medium. But something about that mess, the tactile feeling of being so sensorily involved in the creation in front of me, seemed to jolt me out of my artistic insecurities and perfectionistic pencil drawings. The ability to smudge away mistakes with a finger, or a quick breath across the paper began to allow me to commit to lines, shapes and shades without nervous worries about changing them later.
And now it all seems so very clear: the tie between my nervous attempts at putting a simple pencil on a simple paper in the studio with my approach to, well, life in general. Every single move for me (in life or on paper) is nervously thought out and disceted fourteen thousand times...and finally, after an embarrassing and agonizing length of time, I timidly, slowly begin to flesh things out--second guessing, eying my proverbial eraser the entire way. But...in so doing, I unknowingly remove movement, energy, natural flow and vulnerability from so many experiences.
So, this is my resolution for 2010: to live my life as a charcoal drawing. No fear of getting smudged and messy. Committing to ideas without fears of making changes later. To engage in life around me. No inhibitions...to simply create. To experience.
Oh my. I sound like an art freak in a coffee shop. Hmm. One semester in and I'm both inspired and have become a complete geek...
Two thousand and ten...what a ride it shall be. :)