Getting Lost in the Drawing Experience
Back in the days of private school–a school that leaned heavily towards the arts–one of my first experiences in “getting lost” came to me by complete surprise and near disbelief. What I am referring to is getting lost in the work that you love. In this case and for me it was in drawing.
Running to the art studio, I arrived late for class. As I entered the room, my classmates were busy drawing the nude model in front of the room for this particular life drawing class. A little embarrassed at having not listened (again!) to the art instructor on the assignment for the day, I decided to just get started. Sitting with my right leg propped up on my left knee, my drawing pad on top, I got over the feeling of awkwardness I felt in looking at the whole scene before me and began to draw.
At first I began to draw the outline of the model, but soon realized I needed to get to the core of her posture. I began to sketch in a single, continuous line, over and over, never lifting my pencil off the paper, pouring over every undulating curve, capturing every nuance that best defined her essence, her being, her singularity.
And then it hit! The black hole that invariably sucks you in to some vacuous dimension where all your visual surroundings and sounds disappear from consciousness. And all that you know to exist are subject and drawing. I could then feel the curves with my eyes as they traversed their way across her shoulder. I could feel the rhythm of line meeting line, thick strokes, thin strokes mimicking shadow and light, my pencil lilting across the paper, and my hand orchestrating every movement as deftly as a conductor with his baton. In essence, I felt and heard the rise of the crescendos and the falls of the diminuendos. I was gloriously “lost”…until my right leg hit the floor.
THUD! My entire leg from hip to foot went to sleep and fell off my left knee and slammed into the floor. I couldn’t believe it! Never have I been so “lost” in anything that I was unaware one of my limbs was going numb to the extreme. I was really disturbed over this. I couldn’t make my leg do anything. I didn’t want to sit in any other position other than the one I already came out of, I was losing valuable drawing time, and I wanted to get back to that “lost” state–a kind of utopia or euphoria–because it was a place where I was hampered by nothing. I could follow the rhythms and hear the music created by the hand that held my pencil. This was a stunning revelation and experience that I realized I simply loved.
In all my years of drawing or illustrating I still get lost…effortlessly finding my way to that utopian place. And I love it. At times I have gone so deeply into the work that when I momentarily “come up for air,” I have no idea what day it is, who I am, where I am, how old I am, or even what year it is. Fact! I’m stunned that 4, 6, or 8 hours have gone by that felt like minutes. Ah…but this is part of the true drawing experience, an experience that flows out of passion and deep, deep concentration.
Have you had similar experiences? In drawing or in some other activity? What did you think of the experience? Did you repeat it? Send me a comment and we’ll share.