Drawing in the Sunshine

As the weather was stormy and wet for my first couple of days here, I am now able to properly appreciate how beautiful it is when the sky clears and the sun comes out.

Inspired by sitting on the balcony and watching the sea change from one blue to another and the fronds of the palm tree rustle and glitter in the bright light, I thought I’d go back to my attempts to learn to draw which started earlier this summer in London.

At a friend’s suggestion I acquired Betty Edwards’ book ‘Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain’, and have brought it with me as part of my holiday reading believing that I would see things here on Barbados that would make me want to sketch.  Now, I respect the opinion of G, the friend who recommended the book, so I’m sure I will finish it, but I think it would be fair to say that we’ve not got off to a propitious start, Betty and I.

Without G’s suggestion I would never have bought the book – I might have picked it up in a shop, but would have put it back straight away, as it is not a nice looking book, and has, to my eye, a particularly unattractive drawing on the cover; in fact just the sort of sketch that puts me off ever wanting to have a go, as it is just the sort of thing I have no desire to do.

It got no better in the first couple of chapters.  First there was an instruction to acquire more equipment, and I paid attention because the selection of new stationery is one of the pleasures of life, but not this list, not plastic sheets and cardboard frames.  There’s no fun in that; and anyway I’m on a beach……

The first exercise was to draw a self portrait.  That brought me up to a dead stop.  It reminded me very precisely of the first Learning to Write Course I undertook with the Open College of the Arts years ago. I had waited with such a sense of anticipation for the course books and when they arrived I tore open the box in great excitement.  The first exercise was to write a poem.  EErrgghh. No.

What inspires me to want to write is an enjoyment of words; but I want stories.  I admire people who can write poetry, but it is a craft honed over years of hard work.  The idea of starting me on my path of writing a novel composing some really bad verse was no way to encourage me.

When I undertook the challenge of overcoming my inability to draw it was because I have often sat admiring a view or a landscape and wished that I had the skill to draw it; that’s what gives me the itch to reach for the pencil and pad.  I know that faces are endlessly variable and fascinating, but that’s an intellectual understanding; I know it requires skill and technique to achieve a likeness, but it’s not one to which I particularly aspire.

Now I’m sure all of this says something very significant about both the way my mind works as well as a certain stubbornness, or blinkered view….

But I carried the book here, so it has to earn its allocation of the baggage allowance so I shall be persisting despite all Betty’s efforts to alienate me.

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  1. kathyandrew

     /  September 13, 2011

    I loved that book Rowena. A group of friends & myself worked though it each chapter our ‘lesson plan’ for the week. All of our drawing at the end was markedly better than when w started. That said, given that you’ve jut been on your course and you’re in a beautiful relaxed environment if it were me I’d pick & choose sections that appealed from me out of the middle . On holiday, why do something you don’t want to do. Mind you I loved doing the hand exercise as well as drawing the figure in the book upside down. It might be the book is something you come back to when you are not surrounded by such beauty.
    Either way, good for you persevering with your drawing

    • Thanks Kathy. I’m sure I will persevere as it has come highly recommended, but it is interesting how some things can really turn one off, instead of inspire.

  2. Evelyn Atholl Moir

     /  September 27, 2011

    “Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up”~ Pablo Picasso

    • I’m sure it’s true – but school managed to undermine the instincts fairly comprehensively! It’s fun trying to find it again.


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