The other day I was cleaning out a desk I’ve had for years, and I stumbled on an old sketchpad from high school. There was a time when I loved drawing, and would spend afternoons sketching things just for fun. Just because I wanted to.
I know there’s a “correct” and “artistic” way to sketch characters, usually starting with circles, then lines across those circles to determine the placement of the character’s features (eyes, nose, fingers, etc.). Keep adding details as you go along until the last step, erasing all unnecessary lines. I never could draw like that. All those extra lines used to confuse the heck out of me. And I hated the thought of trying to erase all those lines when I was done.
So I did everything freehand. Absolutely NO tracing paper. No projecting. All freehand. I’d find an image I liked, then choose something in the image to start with and go from there. I’ve always had a fairly good eye and a pretty steady hand, and 9 times out of 10 I was happy with my work. I was terrible at human faces though – I remember trying as hard as I could one night to get Ariel’s face just right and I ended up erasing a hole in the paper. Cinderella turned out kinda scary too. But characters with exaggerated features (like Dopey) were much easier for me.
I drew and painted Kermit the Frog on my closet doors, sketched Calvin and Hobbes over a friend’s bed, and I was actually hired out a couple of times in high school and college to do murals – one for a preschool playroom and another in a little girl’s bedroom. I’m not skilled at creating things out of thin air – to be honest, everything I draw from my own head looks like the drawings I did in grade school. But I’m an excellent copycat!
I have memories of myself, sitting on my twin bed in my bedroom, just sketching. The light pouring through the corner windows. My green gingham comforter. Looking at these images takes me back to those days… the days where I had nothing better to do than to sit on my bed and draw.
Life is obviously not like that anymore. But I think it will be again. One bittersweet day I will look around and realize my beauties are off in the world doing their own thing, and find myself with the time to put pencil to paper again. And perhaps I’ll sit on a bed in a sunlit room with a sketchpad and pencil, adjust my glasses, steady a shaking hand, and draw. Who knows – maybe I’ll even get to paint a mural on my grandchild’s bedroom wall.
Such a happy thought.