“It’s time,” I said to my hand. “Pick up the sketchbook.”
“uh-uh!” my hand crept behind my back.
“Pick it up.” I said sternly. My hand slowly, slowly, emerged and picked up the sketchbook gingerly. Yes! I thought. This is working!
“And the pen,” I continued. “Sketching won’t happen without the pen.” I watched my fingers reach out and wrap around the pen. Squinting at them, I thought I could feel my new determination to draw getting a grip.
“Out to the veranda,” I directed my reluctant self. It was a struggle, but with the sketchbook and pen in hand, my resistance was losing its hold. I softened my tone a bit. “You can do this. You used to do it all the time. It’s gonna be fine!” Really? Really can I start up again after more than two years?
We (my mind, my body, my hand, my determination – the whole package) walked out and sat down in my hammock chair on the veranda overlooking my rainforest yard. There, a few feet directly in front of me were two cecropia (see-CRO-pee-uh) trees, with their bamboo-like hollow sections and gorgeous umbrella-like 2-2½’ broad leaves. One was skinny and scarred, the other was fat and saucy. Maybe I'd just do the trunks. Perfect subjects, stationary, hard to mess up – mostly straightish lines. Not too ambitious for this first try.
I sat down, opened the sketchbook to the first empty page after my July 7, 2015 sketch of a Giant Red-winged Grasshopper and hesitantly sketched the first bit of outline. Okay, that's a start...
I took a sip of coffee, made a few more tentative marks with the ballpoint pen. I watched a blue-crowned mot-mot flicking its tennis-racket tail in a tangle of leaves a few yards away. Stop procrastinating! I drew a bit more, and finally, at last, I settled down to my first sketch-journal drawing in more than two years. Ahhhhh....
Things were a little shaky at first. My lines were not clear and concise, my attention wandered when it needed to focus, I seemed to have forgotten movements that once were easy – all things that I hope will improve with practice. I was using a pen since using a pencil here is not an option. In the tropics the high humidity makes the sketch paper soft, and a graphite stroke that would be black and forceful in a dry climate leaves only a soft gray line on damp paper, so shading is next to impossible. The pencil stroke indents the paper as well. Forget trying to erase, as that destroys the damp paper immediately.
I started the drawing on Wednesday afternoon, day before yesterday, but I had other obligations Wednesday night and Thursday, so I only was able to return to it this morning, which is good, actually, because after a day without looking at the sketch I could see that the design was pretty skimpy and it needed something to anchor it and to make the page more interesting. So walking out into the yard, I found a young cecropia top to sketch into the upper right corner. Ah! Much better.
Next I added a title and some things I know about cecropias. The page is not as good as it would have been when I was sketching steadily a couple of years ago, but it’s good enough to tell me I haven’t lost the ability to draw (I was wondering).
and finally...here it is
|left to right: 2" cecropia, 4" cecropia, new cecropia leaves|
I want to thank Carol for commenting that she hoped I would be able to start up again and continue on.
Carol, this sketch/journal page is dedicated to you. Thank you! Thanks for giving me a specific goal and a reason to get it done. I told myself I didn’t get to answer your comment until I had created something in order to show you that I was serious about starting up again. It worked.
Maybe this will give you a nudge as well, since you said you’ve been finding it difficult to keep sketching without a cheering section.
Shall we keep going? I'll watch for yours if you'll watch for mine. Anyone else want to join us?