Learning to Draw


So I have decided to attempt to learn to draw again, a decade after I last gave up. There is a large part of me that sees this whole endeavour as some kind of final shot at redemption: a chance to finish something I started in my distant past and that must be completed if I am to ever sleep well at night or to die a free man. It’s no longer a simple learning process or even one of re-education, because there is so much emotion caught up in the act that any failure gives rise to a special kind of frustration that is only felt in the presence of the sort of great expectations that one can only develop and then proceed to heap on one’s self after many long years.

But beyond ironing out my destiny and making things up to my former self, what has initially re-sparked my interest in tackling this seemingly impossible challenge is the fact and realisation that I must be able to draw realistically if I am to continue to push my ideas where I want them to go.  I am no longer satisfied with the abstract and imagined, and am acutely aware of how this inability has held me back and ultimately lead to me giving up drawing entirely. 

As it currently stands, I have spent the last 7 years exploring the photographic realm, and have reached a point where I feel that I must break away from a purely photographic process in order to fulfil my need for more creative projects that seem to have at least somewhat taken a backseat to technical, procedural-based work and conceptual image-collecting.

Although my initial idea was to eventually create full colour images by individually painting 3 separate layers in cyan, magenta and yellow, it’s possible that the procedure will change over time, and it’s certain that the subject itself will evolve as my technical proficiency improves also. 

Instead of abandoning photography I am to retain the interesting aspects of printing such as in process of carbon transfer, while essentially drafting my own separation negatives/positives.  I have begun by using the simplest forms: brushstrokes, and am intrigued by the idea that a photograph can resemble a painting right down to the 3-dimensional relief left by the paint. 

My ultimate goal is to produce work that is not only enjoyable to make in terms of process, but that also has meaning behind the means as well as appearing visually striking, while being unique and original across multiple dimensions. 

The decision to venture in this direction comes at a time when I am debating more than ever whether or not I should try to put a cap on some of my ideas and finally begin to specialise, or at least maintain some prolonged focus on a small part of them.  Of course, by “specialise” I don’t actually mean give up everything else that interests me, but in terms of visual media I think I will benefit from dedicating my time to this single line of exploration.

I think that part of what I have been doing for a long time now is making up for all the ways in which my school education failed me.  Now as an adult I get to choose exactly what I study, based entirely on my interests, and I also get to select what to include in the curriculum.  This I think, has meant that I’ve spent my time discovering and playing with various elements that I should have been exposed to as long as 25 years ago, so despite my age I am still very much just starting out.

As with many of my projects, this one calls for me to learn a new skill, but this time the amount of effort involved makes this my most ambitious yet.  I cannot stress enough how learning to draw seems like an impossibility to me, and how at the same time maintaining focus on a single idea seems equally difficult.

At the heart of many of my troubles is a crippling perfectionism that has existed for as long as I can remember, and that I have previously identified as a blockage to my self-expression, and therefore my progress, and I now know that in order to learn to draw I must make a mess, and hopefully in turn also learn to tame my perfectionism.

This serves to demonstrate how every art project is really just a process of self-improvement.

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