Art by Jeff Knecht

Just When I Was Feeling Good About My Progress

22 Feb 2009

I thought my sketching was coming along nicely. I was gaining some confidence. I was thinking, Hey, this is getting easier all the time! And then TODAY happened.

I’ve been a fan of racing for a long time. Cars, trucks, boats, motorcycles, lawnmowers… you name it. If it’s got an engine, I’ll watch to see who can drive it fastest. And I marvel at the artists who capture these vehicles on paper. So I thought I’d try to capture one of my favorite stock cars. I thought it would be fun to get out my new colored pencils and try them out.

About halfway through it though, I realized that I really didn’t like how the drawing was progressing. Frustrated, I decided to put away the colored pencils and go back to basics: black and white. Without color to worry about, I reasoned, I can just focus on getting the lines and the shading right.

Less complexity… should be easier to get something decent, right? Well, not tonight.

I closed up the sketchbook and went off to surf the web. Of course, I wound up looking at the work of some brilliant sketch artists online, and that only served to create further angst about my bad sketch day.

I didn’t want to go to bed without having created something that I could be happy about. And I decided that maybe today was just not a good day to draw from a photograph. I should draw something from life. I usually have more success with drawing from life anyway.

I’ve been thinking about draw our spinning cycle for a while, and tonight seemed like the perfect night to tackle it. It’s a simple shape, really… just a couple of straight, flat bars connected at an oblique angle, and a big circle at the bottom. Well, wouldn’t you know that I couldn’t even get the bars to cross straight?!

I used to run. A lot. And one thing you learn when you run that much is that running every day is actually counterproductive. The rest days are as important as the running days. I’ve been on a ‘draw every day’ kick recently, and I’m beginning to wonder if a rest day might be helpful.

On the other hand, I certainly see the merit of periods of quantity over quality. The act of pushing through the days when you’re just not at your best; the days when all you can think of is, “who am I kidding? I’m no artist”; the days when you consider chucking it all and returning to the couch to watch reruns of The Office because at least you can’t fail at that… that’s got to have some merit, right?

I considered not posting these sketches. I am honestly embarrassed to show them in public. And yet, they are what they are. A reflection of a less than perfect day. We all have days like this — at least, I hope I’m not the only one. And I want this blog to reflect the reality of what I’m learning.

I know that I’m going to have ups and downs. If I don’t share the downs, I believe it will somehow diminish the triumph of the ups. So I post even the things that don’t work out quite the way I’d like them to.