Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Erasers and Guidelines

Fancy Flowers. Rose Anne Karesh. 2013.
This week on my ongoing journey towards learning to draw well I worked through about four lessons in the book I am reading. Mark Kistler wrote an outstanding book entitled “You Can Learn to Draw in 30 Days” that I found online through Amazon when I was looking for a book that would help me improve my drawing skills. So far I have worked through about half the exercises (I’m working slowly, repeating lessons at times) and I am pleased to say that I am absolutely seeing an improvement in my skills. Mr. Kistler’s approach is to break drawings down into simple steps and then show you how those steps illustrate principles of realistic drawing. Each lesson includes a basic lesson with the detailed instructions and then a bonus challenge, which will give you suggestions and examples but not the specific steps. So far I have been able to work out how to complete the bonus challenges based on the instructions in the lesson, which gives me the sense that I actually have understood and mastered the material.

Advanced House. Rose Anne Karesh 2013.
My favorite lessons this week were “Advanced Houses” and “The Lily.” I posted my homework; compared to the work form the first few lessons I am pretty pleased. I realized this week that my most important tool is a good eraser. Each of these drawings involved multiple attempts. I am learning that getting drawings right is a process of trying something, realizing it isn’t quite right, erasing it and then trying again. I worked both with my Kindle Fire application “Sketchbook Pro” and with an actual pencil and paper this week but in both media I needed to erase frequently. I don’t know if this is the case for more experienced draftsmen but it seems to me that it does reflect the nature of life in general. You try something, it isn’t quite right, you undo things as well as you can and then you try again. In life your erasing tools are humility, apologies, forgiveness of self and others, and willingness to learn from mistakes and it seems to me that having a good set of erasers is just as important in life as in drawing.

Three Lillies. Rose Anne Karesh. 2013.
I also learned the usefulness of guidelines in my lessons this week. Guidelines are lightly drawn on the page to help you keep your angles consistent, something that I struggle with. When you are done with the outline of your drawing you can erase the guidelines. Guidelines keep your houses from looking like they have been through an earthquake. It occurred to me that this is also like life. You need basic guidelines of some sort; something to let you know where to draw your lines and how to get the different parts of your life aligned to make a good picture. The guidelines aren’t supposed to be the picture; they are operating invisibly to harmonize the different aspects of the life you are drawing.

I’m pleased that my efforts to master a new skill are also giving me some food for thought about life in general. I’m curious to see what new artistic skills and what new reflections crop up in the weeks ahead.