Friday, February 24, 2012

drawing on experience...

Tell me when this seems familiar....
I do a lot of drawing and art in general. In fact, once a week, on a morning usually stiff and tired from the previous night's training, I attend a drawing class focusing on the human figure (the hardest overall subject to master artistically). Many of the other people there have been going for years, while I've been going the past few months. The work is humbling, yet the small achievements are very fulfilling.
While usually I sit alone and zone out into my own little world, this past week there was not as much room as normal so I set up next to a lady--likely the oldest person in the room. I went to work, creating detailed, intricate sketches which although I liked, I didn't feel were my best pieces. The lady next to me took a keen interest in what I was doing and praised several of my works. She was both sweet and kind.
"A lot of detail," she commented with a knowing smile.
But after awhile, I began to struggle a bit with my images. I was losing the flow and focus of the pictures. So, stepping back from my paper, I decided to watch the older lady, who was using the most simplistic of tools, a paint brush and a pot of ink. I was delighted to see her work: The cleanest lines; the smallest effort; the most accurate depictions. I was in awe at how loosely but confidently her images were formed. I abandoned my own work and just watched her for a long while.
Is it age? We have all witnessed the sensei who, in his/her maturity, whips the student around without effort or folly. We have all been blown away by the master who seems to "know" things no one else does, and utilize his/her tools more effectively than a less experienced individual could ever hope to achieve.
This little woman was like a real life yoda with a brush. She left out so many useless details in order to make a more coherent body of work. And she was teaching me without so much as a word.
Lesson learned.... again. From now on, I sit next to the elder, kind and talented lady and hope to learn a few things from her experience.
It's all so familiar, to me.


  1. Brush work is a deep deep study.

    Everyone I met in Japan who studied both martial arts and the brush agreed fundamentally the construction of the arts were exactly the same. At the very least the parallels are staggering.

  2. I suspect these are the many lessons of true budo. I can't help but hear comments that have been told to me over the years. "Relax" "Don't work so hard" "Go with it" "Stop fighting it" "Loosen up". Parallels indeed.

    I also love the concept of capturing the essence of the form, focusing on the energy and the flow. Looking at the whole, not breaking it down into separate pieces. Great thoughts.

  3. That sounds like a really good plan.