drawing at the museum

Just returned from the National Gallery of Art in Washington where I made some drawings after old masters.  I can give advice about ways that artists can learn to draw more spontaneously, but it’s harder when I have to take my own advice.  Drawing in museums where masterworks hang all around can be intimidating, and as I wandered through the galleries it was difficult to settle upon one thing and just draw it.  Once I decided to draw, it was also challenging to begin when so many visitors were nearby possibly to observe me.  But I did recall to myself the advice I give out.  And I can hardly expect anyone to listen to me if I won’t listen to myself.

So I just started.  One of the drawings I made is the sketch above.

thinking small

Small drawings offer a special kind of freedom because you have no unmanageable expectations regarding their importance.  And so from the outset it’s easy to let yourself go.

Thus doing small insignificant drawings can become one’s laboratory of invention and helps an artist form the habit of spontaneity.  One needs tasks that lead to occasional carefree moods.

Add to the small scale drawing an uncooperative subject such as a wild bunny and you have even more compelling reasons to let go of all caution.

Fake flowers will sit still, but lively wild bunnies will not.  And you have to catch whatever you can and be glad.  There ought to be some space in every day for drawing that is like breathing — that just is — that has no barriers.

And so sometimes line is set free …