The "I" of the Beholder

"Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up."

I had my first drawing lesson yesterday. I realized in order to put more than just vibrant colors on a canvas I needed to learn how to draw.

I have been taking an abstract painting class for the last six months. For that medium I learned how to mix colors and apply the fast-drying acrylic paint. The form and composition were taken from artists that I admired and styles I could adapt -- Jackson Pollack, Mark Rothko, William de Kooning and Wolf Kahn. Now I'm ready to expand my horizons and take on a new challenge ... Drawing 101.

My teacher had given me a list of supplies to buy for our first lesson. I don't know what happens to me when I go into an art supply store. The assortment of items to choose from overwhelms and excites me. I feel like a kid in a candy store, desperate to say to the clerk, "One of everything, please." Soft pencils, dark pencils, erasers in multiple shapes and sizes -- then to the actual drawing paper... oh my goodness, another jackpot.

I had everything organized on the kitchen table ready to start. To begin she gave me three drawings and instructed me to draw them upside-down. She said upside-down drawing forces us to see shapes and lines in order to make sense of the image. My first thought, "Maybe I should have stood on my head with some of my old boyfriends?" Next she brought out a small red apple. Does everyone start with the same old red apple? She began to explain the idea of "negative space" and how to actually see things with our eyes and not our brain. I thought to myself, "How do I keep my enthusiasm and new found joy for art when I have to learn all these techniques? How can I draw what I see instead of drawing what I think I see?"

I need to remain open to seeing the parts and not the sum of them -- I might even develop a more forgiving eye. I guess this is true in life as well. The tendency is to judge from a preconceived perspective not from a mind with no expectations. How many times has a person I thought to be handsome become unattractive because their soul was not beautiful? My husband who was 16 years older than I and 50 pounds overweight became the most handsome and appealing person I had ever known. His inner being was that beautiful. I want to know more about this visual language that I can't fully express in words but want to continue to explore. Maybe the red apple wasn't just the same old red apple? I might not just be learning to draw... I might be taking Life 101.

"We must... give the image of what we actually see, forgetting everything that has been seen before."