Thursday, January 8, 2009

Fear of drawing like I can't draw

I'm working on my first mini-graphic novel. It is more an illustrated nano-story. 4 pages. You would think that after umpteen years of drawing models at the Art Students League, I started there when I was 14, decades of being a designer, and a score of calligraphy classes, not to mention being a compulsive doodler my entire educational K-12 incarceration, I'd be like ho-hum I'm drawing this itty story. Not so.

What is this fear? I can't blame it on thinking I'm too old to do this stuff and will be shown up by people younger than my shoe size. I couldn't design websites if I paid any attention to the rumor that it is a youth-only career. Granted, I'm not doing cutting-edge action script Flash sites like my young friend Mike Kramer, art director at MTV (but he promised to show me how it is done, actually). I can't be terrified my writing will earn me universal scorn, I've written a poetry book, I've read the poems at many many places and lived. People cried and laughed and occasionally bought a copy. So if it isn't the drawing and it isn't the writing, what is it?

I have a secret. I'll use gray type to say it whisper soft. (The dream deferred doesn't dry up like a raisin in the sun. No, it takes on an unhealthy glow of false joy. Like the Christmas pudding soaked in rum that sits and sits and sits, soaking in it's jolly juices for years, it can never taste as good as its recipe promises. It is stale. My courage has been compromised by spending so many years yearning. How can the actual work of learning how to put together image and sound measure up to the dream of doing master work? It can't.)

OK. So the only way to get over the fear is to just do it. Draw some bad drawings, write some weak sentences. Laugh at myself.

Jim gave Caitlin her first fountain pen for Xmas. She has been drawing with it for about a week and realizing how expressive the flexible nib can be, enjoying that lovely conversation ink has with paper when gesture creates thicker and thinner line. She drew nine musical performers one evening while visiting friends in Lexington, forgiving herself for false lines, missed likenesses, and overworked can't erase ink! "I forgave myself, look here, I drew the hat four different times, I kept making it too narrow, but it doesn't matter, I captured something, maybe just my being there or a feeling the singer gave me, and when I couldn't draw a hand I just showed it in motion." Indeed. This is it. Just do it. See what works. Hope it transmits an experience. Have some fun. "My friends enjoyed my doing it, I liked that too, it's like what you do when you sketch people." She's right. I just have to treat it like those sketches I do at events.

It is so easy to spend every day working on my designs. I like the work. My clients pay me. The hours fly by. But I never lose this urge to do something more. As nice as it is to design books and websites, it is time to see if I can do this 4 page venture into my old/new fascination.

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