Drawing a Self-Portrait
Veronica’s the get this plan into action person as far as Portrait day is concerned. Likes to paint and play with materials. Curious. We talk, several times, about a drawing workshop. Veronica sets it up. Natural organizer.
She begins her first drawing with anticipation. Trying to focus she says, but the marker won’t cooperate. The point of the marker is to get one to slow down and become a more careful observer. I suggest to everyone, they try and keep the marker down on the paper, to lift it as few times as possible while they work, creating a more fluid line. I’m not sure she likes the drawing tool, nor the control it requires. Veronica is loose and free spirited with her own process. She does her best to follow directions and completes numerous warm ups of the group.
Self portraiture is challenging and technical difficulties are only a small part of it. The marker is arduous for a few individuals. When students get frustrated, I tell them to slow down, look closely, and work carefully. Or I suggest a short break. If they make a mistake in the line work, I tell them to refocus and keep working. At the beginning of the semester some students want to start over all the time. I don’t allow it. They labor with the marker and then ironically many of them miss it when we move to charcoal. By the end of the semester, they’ve let a lot of resistance go. They’re most aware of looking and seeing. In general, their energy is more focused from the start of a project. They know better to steady it for longer periods of time. They’ve learned a form of discipline. They’ll need it for the advanced studio courses.
Veronica’s focus was more or less on the drawing. She enjoys giving people her attention. Manager. Big sister. It’s all part of who she is. In this case, while everyone is very focused, Veronica is keeping one eye inward and one eye outward. I suspect she’s enjoying both actions She directs me, Go look at Greg’s drawing, maybe he needs some guidance. Amused, I go to Greg. He’s doing fine, I have nothing to say. He barely looks up. I smile at him and then at her.
Later I make a suggestion to someone in the room. As I complete my sentence Veronica says, Tell me what to do! I giggle…keep working! She is serious. So am I. Come! Look!. What am I doing wrong? Doing wrong?! I remind her it’s about the process and not the end result.
As we approach the last work of the day, I briefly explain how one learns a skill like drawing and how the brain works. I don’t really have to do this. Most of this group understands the workings of the body/mind better than I do. Veronica is paying attention. I want to get this eye-hand coordination…I want to form those neurological connections, Veronica says with earnest desire. I appreciate her ambition. I am empathetic. In my yoga practice, I work on getting the perfect hand stand. I want ease and grace. Instead I learn to gracefully ease into patience.
Veronica explains the energy in her hand that want to scratch instead of flow. It’s interesting to have this interaction with my friend. It’s helpful to me to understand what people might experience. Still, I can’t always make it better. She just has to work thru it (or not!).
Fact is, a self portrait is the 5th homework assignment students complete. They are long prepared for the difficulties. She’s getting it all full force, in a few hours time. I suspect Veronica wants freedom from process and material. I tell the group to look closely, draw what they see, not what they think they see, not what they want to see, draw what is there. What kind of freedom is that….! She’s good with the day, but not so pleased with her final composition. In a frustrated instance she lets her hand go and she scratches it up. I am a bit startled. I wish, in that moment, she could know the process works.
True to the learner that Veronica is, she takes the project home with her and keeps on practicing. She works a number of days and updates me with her progress. Smart. Sometimes when students are working at home they find an ease that they can’t find in the classroom. I was one of those people, in the area of drawing in particular, when I was a student back in the days.
She is happy with her home work. Determination. Her face says it all.
Part 2……to be continued.