Thursday, July 10, 2014


Today for my birthday I was given a set of drawing pencils.

When I came home at dusk, I sat out on our back steps and sketched the huge oak tree that towers over our back fence, and a few other trees and structures visible there. I worked very quickly, because the light was fading and mosquitos were biting. I grabbed pencils randomly, experimenting just for fun.

I've never before had a real set of drawing pencils, nor for that matter have I spent much time drawing. I don't think of myself as an artist. But recently I came under the strong influence of my artistic sister, and for the past three weeks have been enjoying the art of drawing. While visiting Jean in New Mexico, I spent hours in her art studio looking at what she and her fellow artists have created. We visited other studios, too, and the stunning southwest scenery inspired me to take many photographs. I began to imagine that "someday" I might take an art class and want to recreate those scenes.

Jean gave me a lovely book that she had made herself:
Handmade book by Jean Nichols
This book inspired me to try something different, to be more creative. Instead of just using it as a journal, scribbling words as is my usual habit, I began adding drawings. At first I drew with my pen. Then I asked Jean for pencils and an eraser. She gave me a few crayons, too. I sat in her yard and drew various scenes, enjoying the process.

Above is my ink drawing of the old bus, rusting at the edge of her hayfield. The next day I added a touch of color, because that old hippie bus had once been brilliantly painted. Below is my second bus drawing, this time in pencil. I tried to sketch the grasses that surrounded me, but that was hard to do. Drawing a bus was easier. 

In the Danvers schools I had been subjected to various ART teachers, and expected to copy exactly what they posted up in front of the classroom. I didn't enjoy art then, and concluded that I wasn't any good at it.  I preferred science. In 7th grade, however, I really responded to lessons in mechanical drawing. I loved doing perspective drawings. I recall creating one of a tree house, an imaginary tree house of my own invention. Last week, while searching for something else, I stumbled upon my 7th grade art folder!  I didn't open it until tonight, after coming inside from my twilight drawing session. Sure enough, there were examples of perspective drawing done with rulers and "vanishing points." I vividly remember those drawings and the fun of making them. 

I have no memory, however, of drawing the deer with her fawn (colored drawing above) --nor of most of the other art found in my folder. Gosh, I wasn't so bad at art. My preference for the mechanical drawing was much stronger; I had more confidence as I worked with a ruler and followed established guidelines about how the perspective should work. That part fascinated me.  

Now, at age 71, I have a fresh sense of confidence about drawing.  Any kind of drawing. I feel free to create whatever I want, without critical judgment from a school art teacher. This is much more fun!

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