My favorite movie when I was in high school was Shine, which is about the amazing pianist, David Helfgott. Young Helfgott's daunting goal, according to the movie, is to perform Rachmoninoff's Piano Concerto No. 3. What captivated me the most in the movie was Helfgott's determination, and the extreme effort it took to master such a piece. I haven't seen it since I was a teenager, but the words of Helfgott's (movie) teacher stuck: Forget the notes, but learn them before you forget them!

Another thing I was obsessed with in high school was drawing and with being able to do it really well. Drawing was all I did, and I focused on rendering things as realistically as possible. Every book I could learn from, I did, and every picture in any magazine ended up in my sketchbook either in pencil or in ink. Once I went to college, though, oils became my true love, and drawing was only a base to paint on top of.

One of my gesture drawings from school.

If you've read my blog in the past, you know that I've got some issues with mental health, especially with OCDPD. Rules are what I latch onto for control; in my artwork I spent an exceptional amount of time reading about artists' materials and trying to learn all of the rules about each one, especially oil paints. Learning all I could about technique and materials, however, didn't include drawing.

My go to book for learning about art materials!
Image taken from Indie Bound.

After 12 years of sticking to oils, I made a change out of practical need. Oils take a lot of time to dry and cure, and besides being costly, paintings take up a lot of space. So I returned to what I know. Making the leap back to drawing was scary after ignoring it for so long. I wasn't sure if I'd be able to do it as well as I had or how rusty I would be. What if it wasn't like riding a bike but more like trying to roller skate after growing several feet and several pounds?

Sunday afternoon. Oil on canvas, 24" x 20". 2013

What I found out was unexpected. Returning to drawing showed me that I actually enjoy breaking the rules! The work I made didn't line up with what makes a good rendering, nor was it something to impress a viewer with a display of my technical skill. It turned out to be even better. Through the work I made I found out that I have my own, unique drawing style, and working in that new way is something that I'm good at and I enjoy.

Come and Take It (Bound Up). Mixed media on paper mounted on gessoed plywood, 40" x 27". 2015

After all those years of learning as many rules as I could, while creating plenty of my own, breaking the rules gave me a good bit of confidence back. It helped me to trust my instincts and to like myself by liking the aspects of my work that I don't expect other people to like. Although it's taken a while to learn the notes, I finally seem to have forgotten them - hopefully this means that I'm on my way to creating a real masterpiece, like Helfgott and the Rach 3!

A work in progress for my next solo show.


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