Tuesday Tips and Tricks
If you ask me now what I was afraid of, it would be hard for me to formulate exactly. I suppose I was afraid of being judged. I was afraid that people would look at my drawings while I sit there in public and recognize me for a fake that I am. I was a afraid of failure, my drawings never came out like what I meant them to be, instead of beautiful proportions and delicate value gradations, my results looked grotesque and wonky. Plus, I never went to art school and thought that it would be immediately obvious to anyone who looks at my scribbles. Aaaaa-nd, when I was in the middle school, my father did all my art homework because I was too busy with my math and history. You see - I had many reasons. I can probably remember a few more if I concentrate.
So I would go to the Art Institute, my sketchbook in my bag, and walk gallery after gallery trying to summon my courage to sit down and draw something. And then I would go home with my sketchbook having never left my bag. Weeks passed, then months.
That one Tuesday I was in the Art Institute again and heard uncharacteristic noise coming from the main Impressionist gallery. I went there to see what’s going in. There were kids there, 2nd graders, having their art class in the museum. About 40 kids, very loosely chaperoned by their art teachers, were sitting on benches, lying on the floor and copying Monet and Renoir and Degas and Cezanne onto sheets of paper. They were laughing, squealing, pushing each other and having enormous fun. When they saw that I was interested in their drawings, they gathered around me and started showing me their masterpieces. The drawings were what you would expect of a 2nd grader equipped with a #2 pencil and a sheet of printer paper. The fun that filled the gallery was over the top. They were so happy and proud of their work! And I was almost crying from envy. I too wanted to be part of that. How come they are not afraid, I thought. How come they are having so much fun, and I am about to leave the Art Institute with my sketchbook still unopened in my bag. Enough!
I walked to the right of the main Impressionist gallery, sat on a bench and got my sketchbook out of my bag.
|Gaston Lachaise - Woman (Elevation) - Bronze - 1927. Art Institute of Chicago|
Nobody laughed. Actually nobody paid any attention. In a few days I came back and drew again. No-one cared.
Randolph Rogers - Nydia, The Blind Flower Girl of Pompeii - Marble - 1858. Art Institute of Chicago
I went to a local coffee shop and sketched a view from the window. A man looked over my shoulder and said, “You are so brave to draw in public like that, I don’t have the guts.” I thought, “If only you knew!”