Portrait drawing by Jeanette Barrett
Time is Running Out!!
At the age of 63, I picked up a pencil and began to draw. Oh my goodness, it was pathetic. But I was not discouraged and tried again. And again. And soon I was seeing things in my drawings that I thought were pretty good and believed that if I just kept working at it, the layers of the onion would peel away and what would emerge would be: An Artist!
I was too busy in my former life to take time out to explore my nascent artistic talent. Two jobs, a family, a house, pets, parents… Then I was battling liver failure and other health issues and had no time for hobbies or studies or anything else. Just staying alive was the goal. Having survived, after liver transplant surgery, and being unable to return to work because of continuing health issues, I found I had a lot of idle time on my hands and needed challenges to keep my mind crisp and fully functioning. So I decided I would learn a second language – German – and because I always liked doodling, I thought I would attempt serious drawing, with actual drawing tablets and real artists pencils and erasers and – goodness – I found I couldn’t put the pencils down. Now, I’m not going to say that I instantly recognized, on the paper before me, the sleeping artist I was always meant to me. No, no. But it did feel like this was something I could develop and improve upon over time. My father was an amateur artist and loved to get lost in his paintings. My niece, it turns out, is incredibly talented at painting. So perhaps there was something in the genes? I’ve always loved art, wanted to understand the creative process behind the great works we see in museums, wished I could sit down and talk to the artist, ask him where his inspiration came from, how he learned, who his teachers were, what could he share with me that would help me to get over the fear of failure.
Well, over the last two years, I think I’ve definitely gotten better. The problem is, I jump from one thing to another because I don’t really have a plan for learning. I’ve bought books, but I lose patience because I feel that the time I’m spending reading could be better spent drawing. And I do feel time is running out, because I’m 65 and my health is not great, and my eyes get worse every year and, most of all, I simply don’t know what I’m doing. I really could use some instruction. And some constructive criticism. Or even to be told that I’m wasting my time because I have no talent and maybe I should have taken up bowling? Except my knees are bad so I don’t think that would work. And knitting is boring.
I want to learn everything about art. How to plot out a portrait. How to incorporate accuracy through perspective. How to draw the human form accurately. I want to learn simply everything. Eventually I want to learn to paint – in oils and watercolors and acrylics – but first I want to learn to draw because I believe that’s the foundation of all the rest. Maybe not for some people; the true geniuses (which I definitely am not). But it only makes sense that if you want to paint, it probably wouldn’t hurt to know first how to draw.
Every other day, there’s another invitation in my email box to join the Drawing Academy. I’ve wanted to. My father took the “Famous Artists” course many, many years ago, and it helped him tremendously.
I think that Drawing Academy could be my course. These are professional teachers, who can spot a common mistake from a mile away, and I really, really need someone to point out the mistakes I keep making that are holding me back. But on my income, I simply can’t afford it. I thought that, when my son and daughter-in-law asked what I’d like for Christmas, I’d say “Drawing Academy membership,” but then I thought it would be too presumptuous to put a price on how much my Christmas gift should cost. I couldn’t do it. The invitation that came into my email box to submit a work to Drawing Academy and have it judged by strangers seemed way too intimidating until I read the process that was used to choose winners. And then I thought, what do you have to lose?
I believe that, while I will never be a Degas or a Monet, I do have some artistic talent, but I’ll never be able to develop it fully without instruction from people who are knowledgeable and can point out my mistakes and guide me along so that I don’t keep making those mistakes and who can bring me to a place where I actually KNOW what I’m doing rather than just winging it. There is no one in my life to whom I can turn and ask question or get unbiased critiques. My friends love everything I draw. But they would never want to hurt my feelings by being critical.
As to why people should vote for me: I would like your vote if you like what I have drawn. I imagine there will be hundreds of submissions, and choosing which three should win will be difficult. I’m certainly not going have the best submission, and I pray I don’t have the worst. I guess I would say, it is what it is – …and let the chips fall where they may. And hopefully enough people find something they like about my drawing and agree that I could benefit from some qualified instruction and they will give me their votes. In other words, maybe lightning will strike!
So, please. Vote for my submission. And thank you if you do, and thank you even if you don’t, because you will have passed me over, I’m sure, in order to give this gift to someone else who is struggling and could use a boost.