The postcard arrived the minute I put charcoal to paper. I didn’t notice the image on the front — probably some gorgeous painting — but I got the message: Don’t do it.
Don’t. You can’t. That’s really hard. Stop now before you make a fool of yourself.
I didn’t read any further, but I’m guessing there was encouragement to whine more than just a little bit.
That voice. It sends me messages from time to time, most frequently these days on Saturday afternoon when I’m in my beginning drawing class at the Hugh Lane Gallery.
Another special time for those little message-packed note-lets to arrive is just after a poetry rejection has landed in my inbox. That voice’s timing is impeccable, really, I’ll give it that. The words are similar: on trend themes of giving up, wasting time, never going to blah blah blah.
I do read those postcards from That Voice, sometimes I do, but I’m getting better at tearing them up before I even see the salutation.
What also helps are the outer voices with other messages, interrupting that voice, contradicting and challenging it, stopping a descent into whining. The instructors in my beginners’ drawing class keep telling us we’re getting it, we’ve captured the colour or the proportions or the shape of the negative space. They praise all those lines that are swished on in defiance of (what I imagine are) many voices saying Stop, and Put down that charcoal, and Whine now.
And there are postcards sent from other voices: for me, my husband who constantly tells me to go for it (just like my dad!); those in my poetry circle who read the raw product and still see and comment on the beauty in it; the friends and family who add Fair play, well done, that’s brilliant, you’re on the way to the cacophony that’s slowly drowning out that voice.
So today I send this postcard to you (and to myself) as a reminder to rip up those cards that you don’t need and to cherish the ones that you do.
Some examples of the exercises in our drawing class, which is both exhausting and invigorating: life drawing, reproducing colour, still life work, and negative space.
One of the advantages of taking a class in an art gallery is getting to use the collection as inspiration. Here are some of the pieces that inspired my work in the colour and negative space classes:
Thoroughbred Horse, Walking by Edgar Degas; Evening, Achill, by Grace Henry; and The Age of Bronze, Auguste Rodin.