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2005 has been about trying to learn how to draw. It may sound simple but it’s had me stumped ever since I arrived at art school. 

Learning how to assess a drawing; how to determine what’s right and what doesn’t quite work; how to know when to stop and when to push further  . . . .Learning how to equate marks with space, lines and distance, tones with form . . .Coming to terms with these basic issues has been the focus of my drawing this year.

Desperate to learn just the fundamentals, I pared down my subject and materials to the barest minimum: chairs and charcoal on life-sized paper. Knowing each week what to draw and what to draw with was a huge advantage because it denied me hours of procrastination. 

Perseverance and routine. They aren’t very sexy or bohemian, or arty for that matter, but they helped me enormously. By limiting my options and disciplining my behaviour to draw solidly for 6 hours a week, I learned about which aspects of drawing really interest me and about how my mind works while I draw.

The very idea of trying to make a 3D object two-dimensional makes my eyes spin. I’m an energetic person and I rarely stay still enough to even measure an object accurately, let alone transpose that information onto a flat plane. Recognizing this aspect of my character helped me to learn to draw around the constant shuffling of my feet and the continual shifting of my eyes. While my chairs are all representational, I have let go of single point of perspective and rational space and have enjoyed watching the chairs find their own place on the page.

I have discovered that drawing as about using my whole body. It is a physical process. No sooner do my eyes voraciously absorb what I am looking at (admittedly a little too quickly, a little too carelessly), than my body begins to spew it onto the paper. Lines sweep on through both hands, chaotically, rhythmically, with more concern for the way it feels than the way it looks. Once the initial purging has taken place, then I begin to calm my breathing, to stand back, to assess, to remove, and the work on.

I am still uncomfortable with the idea of space on a page, with the illusion and trickery of drawing. My marks are still not sensitive enough, my eyes are still not observant enough, and my mind is still too lazy. 

However, nothing has been lost and everything gained: I know more than I did last year and while I haven’t learned how to draw, I think I have learned how to learn how to draw.

Eugenie Knight Draper, Third Year Drawing, National Art School 2005