I’m learning I have none.

I know that drawing and observation is one of my weaknesses in my art. I decided that this year, I’d get on top of that. Kimon Nicolaides book “The Natural Way to Draw” is one of the classics, and by the end of it, you’ve done 375 hours of drawing. It’s something that you do over the course of a year (or two in my case).

I walked into this thinking, “I’ll just spend some time drawing over the next few months and then I’ll be up to par.” I’ll admit it – I was quite glib about it. I used to have a good eye for observation, and drew all the time, but I’ve been putting more effort into learning the techniques of painting lately. I’ve gotten rusty.

Well what I’ve discovered is that “rusty” is an understatement. Maybe it’s a combination of being older, having had the cocky kicked out of me by life and by studying the works of much, much better artists, but sweet Jesus! It’s depressing. Am I really this awful?


Patience has never been one of my virtues. Particularly when it comes to patience with myself. Each chapter calls for 15 hours of drawing time – that’s 3 hours on each technique. Doesn’t sound too bad when I type it here. But oh, it is that bad. And more.

An example

Three of the exercises in the first chapter call for drawing for half an hour on a single object, drawing only the contours (lines). Easy as peas, I thought. The thing is, if you don’t take half an hour to do it, you’re doing it wrong.

Dude, I must be doing it really, really wrong. I’ll draw for 15 minutes and be finished and bored as hell. I spend the whole time antsy, frustrated, chomping at the bit.

My ego is not enjoying this. It just wants me to be better already. It doesn’t want to go back to the very beginning. It doesn’t want to be the student again. It just wants to be awesome right this instant!

I go through this every time I start learning something new. It’s my own personal dip, the test I have to pass to get to the other side of the bridge. Will I let my ego win, or am I willing to remember that really, I don’t know very much at all?

When I can get the chattering of my ego to shut up, I don’t mind being a student again. I like learning. It’s just that “fumbling in the dark” feeling that sets my ego off. Seeing my imperfect, scrappy, messy drawings, my ego isn’t pleased. It wants perfection. It wants mastery. And it wants it yesterday.

As it turns out, working through this book is going to be more of an exercise in meditation and self mastery than it is drawing. Why am I not surprised? Life will teach you it’s lessons in whatever way available it seems.

I’ll let you know how thisĀ  “patience” thing goes this week.