I have always wanted to learn art. Not the art that is a drawing or a painting, but the art that is a way of life.
I am a writer. I have practised many words to give myself a new perspective to various things in life. A word-focused, story-focused mind, strolling down the streets, hunting for the next giant thing. But there’s always been a limitation I could touch and not know the way around. It has eaten at me for years. Words can help one see a lot of things, but not everything. Math, art, music, dance, all have their own appeal, their own love and offerings to an intellectual mind. I wouldn’t go in detail talking about the contribution of each craft here, but only drawing and painting, mostly the beauty of urban sketching.
To be an artist, one must dedicate a life to it. I feared I don’t have enough time to even write the stories I wish to write, or learn more about music or dance. Then how do I engage myself in an activity I will have to start from scratch, build up for years, and still be pathetic at?
“Art makes you see” they say. I believe it. But the kind of art I have practised in the past, which is drawing a random picture of a favourite superhero, or colouring a notebook sticker, or even copying letters, offered me no profound discovery. Therefore, I would start to learn to draw, and then give up. I would see no progress, compare myself with other artists with groundbreaking command on technique on social media, imagine ten years of my life invested in something that doesn’t even interest me that much, and leave. Repeat the process, over and over again, every year.
I observe gaps in my writing every day. I see how I miss important details. I see how I am unaware of my character’s anatomy the way I should be. I see how facial expressions can move to a million variations in a second and how my eyes are only able to capture a hundred. I see how rhythm is lost in my narrations sometimes. I see how I have trouble remembering the architecture of the streets. The colour of the protagonist’s dress is sometimes wrong, not logically, but just inexplicably wrong. The hair on her head is the incorrect length. I also see how there are a million things that I don’t even know I don’t know that trouble my fiction worlds tremendously. These worlds crave for a refined observation that I now know can only come through drawing and deep questioning of lines, curves, light, shadow, philosophy, colour, shape, physics, that words, music, and my eyes alone cannot do for me.
I am a great advocate for intuition when it comes to any form of art. Because intuition guides you after immense experience with technique, it is the right tool to fall back to, for the perfect balance of the known-unknown dimension, the chaos-order spectrum, where art is born.
A few days ago I walked down the neighborhood at 05:30 in the morning, and saw these birds I know not the name of hop around and play, like they do every morning. I thought to myself how amazing they were, how cool and glad and full of life. I could watch them for hours and still be blank. I could perhaps draw them and learn a thing or two about them. I thought they could be playing tic tac toe, or teasing each other with names, or finding new ways of being every day. Maybe they have no memory of the previous day, so they begin from scratch. But if they begin from scratch, they could either be coming up with new ideas every day, or perhaps from scratch means the same idea with different progressions…
I thought and thought, and realized, how insufficiently I thought. I had no conclusions, no visions, no real information about this observation. I was forcing myself to see all I wanted myself to see. This desperation, this frustration, brings this worn-out soul down to the knees, bending over this creation process that is art.
I want to see something. I want to know something, that is aching my heart ever since I knew in my consciousness, I could have it. It’s a leap of faith. An affirmation from the universe.
For Vincent Van Gogh, it was the colours that stirred something in him. He said they spoke to him. For Leonardo da Vinci, it was primarily the scientific inquiry. But none of them aimed for these specifically. They just picked up their brushes and went exploring, and saw great things they allowed their eyes, ears, mind, and soul, to see.
I feel I am ready for that now. I hope it’s not an illusion. I have elusive feelings all the time.
How am I beginning with this?
Well, currently I am here:
I draw from pictures, and often go on walks with my backpack, too scared to draw yet from life, cause people watch! It has only been around ten days, so I do not intend to reprimand myself on this. The nervousness is inevitable. But I intend to draw my first urban sketch from life before the end of June 2023. I did try some scribbles in a restaurant, but it was just contouring and I noticed I was playing safe.
The two books I am currently reading to practise technique are:
The Keys to Drawing by Bert Dodson, suggested by a Youtuber : Teoh Yi Chie
Practice and Science of Drawing by Harold Speed, suggested by an extremely skilled and insightful artist Aaron Alto.
Let’s see how and where this journey takes me. It’s a fun start.
If I keep at it, I am sure it will come. Just like words on a blank page. Might take a month, a year, or more, I am resilient. I don’t intend to draw every day. I have decided to go with the flow, and learn with my own pace, which usually works best for me.
04:36 a.m., India.