Drawing has a way of lulling me into a completely altered state. For some reason, I very rarely take artistic pen to paper, maybe because it consumes me too much, or possibly because my mother’s disdain for my work echoes in my head whenever I draw.
Ironically, my last serious bout of drawing fever was about 25 years ago, when I was working my way through my first separation. I would stay up all night if I fell into the right rhythmic groove and the perfect hypnotic, meditative trance. I’d forget to eat, or, conversely, I’d call the local pizzeria, seeking gustatory satiation for my late night munchies via their scrumptious white pizza, heavily perfumed with garlic and basil, delivered hot and fresh to my doorstep.
At some point, my white pizza addiction must have spiraled out of control, for one night the owner took the phone: You are home alone too often, he said. You sound like a nice girl. Come in and meet my son. I’ll treat you to dinner.
I’m sure he could feel me blushing all the way through the phone. I stammered: Um… thanks, but no thanks…and, embarrassed to my core, I never called for another white pizza. Shortly thereafter, consumed by the rigors of graduate school, I laid down my pens and inks, my charcoals and my pencils, and I didn’t pick them up again…until now.
This summer, I decided to take a break from writing. I’d been feeling stale and uninspired; writing had become an obligation rather than a pleasure. So I gave myself a break from my self-imposed dictate of writing every day and I signed up for a drawing class instead through the community school.
As it happened 25 years ago, once again drawing has renewed and invigorated me.
I’ve learned that drawing, like everything else, requires ongoing practice to keep the skills sharp. So the first two weeks of class found me, taut and tense after a two decade absence, struggling through still lifes and exercises designed to liberate our imaginations. I hated everything I drew; I cringed when the teacher posted our drawings for critiques. My drawings were flat, lifeless, stilted and childish (not in a charming folk art way).
But two weeks ago, muscle memory finally kicked in and I began once again to find my artistic voice. It’s not a voice that will ever earn me accolades or a style that is anything but imitative, but it captures my mind, liberates my senses, frees my soul.
Fortunately for my wallet, waistline and ego, I have yet to find the perfect white pizza to accompany my art evenings. So the only change from 25 years ago is that these days I draw simply to the rhythm of my hand as it stipples and pounces and sketches. No music, no food: just me, my charcoals and my pad.
It is only fitting, perhaps, that my first worthy attempt is of a worthy subject:
And even more surprising: now that I’ve rediscovered my drawing hand, my writing urges have returned in full force.
My biggest obstacle this summer, it seems, is time: finding time to do all I want to do, to burrow deep within my creative soul without mundane interruptions (like work). It’s a problem I am only too happy to have.
And with that…off to sketch, to write, to dream.