I attended an open drawing session at a local art school after Labor Day Weekend. It has been years—since 2007 when I graduated, specifically—since I really devoted any time to academic study. I was very out of practice, to say the least. I can’t even say the three hours I had available to me to draw from a live, nude model, was academic in the strictest sense. I really was just trying to get a likeness with correct proportions. I realized the following mistakes that I made:
- I didn’t bring the right materials
- I failed to plan out the figure, hence, I “ran out of paper”
- I focused on detail too early, resulting in an incomplete piece
My goal was not to take away specific ideas for other projects, much less create a saleable piece. I just knew I needed to stretch out and work muscles that have been at risk for atrophy. You’ll notice from the drawing that the medium I used worked against me, or I worked against it. Hard conte pencils were not the right choice to cover large paper in a relatively short amount of time, when factoring in a few quick gesture sketches on newsprint to warm up. With all the breaks and those initial studies, I had about an hour and a half on the drawing. I ended up with a somewhat sloppy, if not stylized, work. There are also visible corrections, which is not a bad thing for a study. Notice that I corrected the length of the kneecap to the ankle, but didn’t erase the erroneous first positioning. I really wanted to capture the man’s feet; they had a very prominent structure. You’ll see I did a quick study to the left of the drawing of his right foot, just to compensate for my poor planning. The model had a very interesting face, so I didn’t work hard enough to resist my compulsion to go in with the detail.
I left the studio in a slight state of unrest, but I don’t know if I was justified in feeling that way. I display this work not with pride, but with a truthful humility. There was more for me to take away from this session, and even more for me to bring to the next one.
Time and time again, I find myself at an impasse. While I am never bored, there is a burden to having more than one creative passion, especially when not in the position to devote more than a couple hours a day, at most, to any one art. I know, poor me, right? Seriously, though, it can be a double-edged sword if you don’t have the freedom of complete and unadulterated movement. I carry some level of frustration and unfulfillment with me at all times. The logical thing to do, especially since I can’t quit my job in this economy, is to make a choice: art, music, or writing.
Well, outside of my blogs, the writing would be the easiest to send to the gas chambers (apologies for the crude analogy, albeit based on a work of fiction). While the written word is my favorite form of literal communication, and am very proud of whatever I put on screen, it is the medium I am least passionate about if a relative measurement can be put on an emotion. However, it is vastly easier to squeeze in writing when I’m at work. Yes, I confess to occasionally working on my blogs when I should be reconciling revenue accounts. Shame on me. I’ve also written a lyric or three, as well as a couple of stories. That is the beauty of working on a computer all day. It is also pretty easy to write down ideas in a meeting and make it look like I am taking notes on the topic at hand. Disingenuous? Maybe. But, I have my priorities, and they aren’t in accounting anymore.
So, would I give up the writing? I don’t think I have to completely, considering how accessible the activity is. That leaves art and music.
I am able to sketch during my lunch hour. I don’t always do that, but the option is there. Being in a cubicle, I can’t bring a guitar and work on tunes. When I had an office with a door, I could do that and just play quietly. Those were the days. But really, that is all picking at bones to barely sustain me. The productive work should happen outside the office. There’s all night to work, or at least a few hours, right? Wrong, not if I want to eat, spend time with my husband, do chores, run errands, have a social life, and deal with whatever else comes up. I also have to go to bed at a reasonable hour so I can get up early and work out. If I am not healthy and have energy, I can’t work; that is non-negotiable. Can I catch up on the weekends? Responsiblities don’t take scheduled time off. I get several hours in on a good weekend. Then, I am left with vacations. What can I say? I mean well, but those books just don’t read themselves. Sigh.
I did finally answer the question for myself if I had to make that Sophie’s Choice between art and music. It would have to be the music. While I am equally passionate about all of it, and I lose track of time when I immerse myself in them, music touches me in a unique way. I can’t explain it completely. Again, if I could measure a relative emotional response, the feeling I get from writing music—when it is good—is transcendent. I feel on top of the world. It is, in a word, sublime.
But to leave art behind, never to pick up a pencil or set a brush to canvas again? That pain would be unbearable. Since I do not have children, it is the closest approximation for me as the level of sacrifice I can fathom. I would have to be in dire straits in order to make that choice. I shudder at the thought.
Does that leave me with a Hobson’s Choice, i.e., no choice? Perhaps. Right now, I am riding a cool wave of creative energy. I am making great progress on a painting I have been nursing since the beginning of the year (post to follow on that), I have done the same for a fantasy drawing and hope to complete that in the next week (post will follow, as well). I have two titled songs in progress, as well as the germ of an idea for a third one. I am about to start writing a children’s story, and my husband and I are researching markets for a vampire story we completed a couple of months ago (see the post titled “Bite While It’s Hot ” from March 7, 2010). There is an upside to chronic insomnia, I suppose. Oh yes, and there are my blogs. They are the easiest way to reach out to as many people who want to read what I have to say, as well as let them know what I am up to. Who could ask for more?
Me, I suppose. I want more time, more energy, and more money. Because, I never want to get to the point where I have to make that choice.