This exercise lead me to have a bit of a creative breakdown then a rather exciting creative breakthrough. On first reading I thought I had to draw some fruit or vegetables in A3 and that was that. I began some preparatory drawings defaulting mindlessly to realism. Then I re-read the exercise and noted the instruction to use creative marks and all of what I had learnt on the course to date. Cue a panic.
Loosening up and not opting for a realism has been a hobby horse of mine since the course started. One part of my drawing was an apple. I didn’t know where to start and the A3 large size was intimidating. After staring at the page for an eternity I realised inspiration would not strike. I remembered from earlier in the course how planning to draw was a bit of a revelation so I decided to go back and research some examples of organic matter drawn expressively.
I came across this lovely example from this site and spent some time reflecting on it. It seems simple but there are a deceptively wide range of marks in different directions and weights as well as strong highlights and shadows.
I did a few preparatory sketches limiting myself to different types of marks. Although I have to literally bully myself to just draw when I do loosen up the experience is always incredibly enjoyable and uplifting.
I would give anything to allow myself the freedom a child lacking self consciousness has. I’ve studied Jonathan Haidt’s ‘Happiness Hypothesis’ and Chip and Dan Heath’s wonderful book on the psychology of change called ‘Switch’ which both use the analogy of the emotional elephant being in control of the rational rider. Although I conceptually understand all of that, even though I’m not consciously being self critical or worrying what others think, I might be at some deep rooted level else I’d be surely picking up the pencil and just drawing?
I can be hard on myself so perhaps this is as much a symptom of where I am on the creative journey. That being the case perhaps I should not be bashful about admitting I had to go and research again about creative mark making because it is new and something I have not yet had enough practice of aside from the need to plan and do preparatory sketches.
After I had done some preparatory sketches, I faintly outlined the main shapes on my final drawing and decided to begin with the apple. It was not easy to get going but once I did, presumably because I’d done a few dry runs in different ways, it became easier. For a short while I seemed to go into some sort of almost zen like state where everything was tuned out except for drawing on the page and studying the apple. For what almost felt like sketching I was drawing the apple for a reasonably long amount of time. When I felt myself coming out of this state, I was actually pleased with the result.
Interestingly when I tried to ‘just draw’ the other items – an avocado and a chilli pepper – without the experimental preparatory sketches, without a break inbetween, the result was very unsatisfying and it almost makes the finished piece look like two separate drawings.
I’m not sure what happened. I feel sure I can’t will it to happen again. I hope if I follow a similar process of researching what I want to draw, preparatory sketches, outlining my main shapes, a break then quiet time to make my marks then perhaps Csikszentmihalyi’s ‘flow’ will grace my doors again.