Sketching/Drawing

It’s just a series of lines on a page, right? Just some scratch marks here, some hatching there–nothing extravagant. So how are some people so much better at it than others?

Every time I tell people that I go to art school, I get one of two reactions: the first being a smile of pity, a look that clearly says, I’m sorry you’re too stupid to do anything academic/practical/worthwhile/that you will actually make a living on. The second is, Wow, art? Good for you. I can barely manage a stick figure, which is far less offensive but more incorrect. I am also in the “can barely manage a stick figure” category.

Just because I’m an artist doesn’t mean I’m any good at drawing. Or painting. Or sculpture. Or anything else considered “artsy.”  I don’t think I’ll ever be the kind of person to sit down and sketch something that I like. My younger sister, on the other hand, drawing constantly. Her fingers might as well be made of graphite.

We are currently both taking a narrative drawing class together. We have our first big project of the semester due tomorrow, so we’re working on the finishing touches simultaneously. When she takes a “break” from her drawing homework, she gets out her sketchbook and draws some more–the material is for her own amusement, but it’s still drawing. When I take a break from drawing, it’s to go get a cup of coffee. Or a glass of wine. Or to write this blog.

Three years in, and I’ve come to the conclusion that what art school is truly about is the cultivation of ideas. Sure, craftsmanship and aesthetic are important, but the difference between “real” art and something that looks pretty that any Midwesterner might purchase at Bed, Bath & Beyond to hang on their wall is an idea.

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On learning to be a writer

Self-acceptance is not my thing.

I constantly doubt myself, especially in writing. There is no standard for writing, no formula that says, Congratulations, you have accomplished what you set out to do! Success! It’s all a guessing game. It’s all based on feedback, which (let’s be honest) isn’t always as constructively critical as it could be.

It’s easy to get discouraged. It’s easy to get torn down.

I am an equestrian, a photographer, and a writer. All of those are an art form, in their own way. You have to have a balance between confident enough to know you’re good and really get somewhere–and you have to be humble enough to know when to accept a critique of your work.

Writing is not a profession for the faint of heart. I could drag out my scroll of suicides, but I’ll spare you. What I’m getting at is that it is hard to not get discouraged and depressed over writing. It’s easy to doubt yourself. Especially if you–like me–are in the beginning stages of your writing career.

Recently I came across something on Brevity that made me feel quite a bit better about this. It’s titled Give Yourself Permission by Allison Williams. And it made me feel so much better about not only writing, but about being 25.

I think that, as writers, we are lucky. We’re (hopefully) only going to improve as we age. We can only learn more, experience more, think more, write more. Our habits get better. I know mine have.

After about 7 years of having my fingertips glued to my laptop, I began writing “old school,” pen to paper. And it really helped. I try to write after dark, in coffee shops if possible. I like background noise, but nothing too drastic.

I thought being a writer was about getting published. But being a writer actually had nothing to do with that. Being a writer is about going to that coffee shop, pen and notebook in hand, and putting words on a page.