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OP

September 7, 2016

I love drawing statues and sculptures. Mostly because of the obvious reason: they don’t move. But I also love the challenge of trying to make them actually look like a statue. I rarely succeed at this challenge. Correction: I never succeed at this challenge. Every time I try to draw a sculpture of a person, it just ends up looking like a person, not a sculpture of one.

Here is one of those times when I failed. This is a drawing of a bronze sculpture at the Phoenix Art Museum. The PAM is one of my favorite places to take my sketchbook. The special exhibits are great, but the permanent collection is where I like to draw. And even though I been in there a million times, I always seem to find something that I never appreciated before. That’s what happened with this sculpture – Apache by Malvina Hoffman.

I went to the museum last spring with my husband Richard and my friend Laurie to see the Michelangelo exhibit. Afterwards we headed over to the permanent collection, and they wandered off while I sketched. I had just finished drawing this other sculpture which came out okay-ish, when Richard and Laurie came back and said they found something they thought I would love. Then they led me over to Apache.

They were right. I probably spent about an hour on this one. Maybe more, maybe less. I really don’t know, because it was one of those magical times when you lose all sense of time and place and just get lost in the thing you’re creating. It was almost like going underwater. Everything outside of me, the statue, and my sketchbook became blurry and muffled.

Apache PAM

When I finished it was like coming up for air. I remember looking around and thinking “Oh look, it’s the real world.” Then I looked at my drawing, as if for the first time, and thought “Oh hey, that’s really good.”

Or at least, really good for me. And that’s all I care about anymore. Doing the best drawing that I can do. Not trying to compare myself to other artist and then hate myself when I fall short.

My drawing still doesn’t look like a sculpture, but I like how the expression on his face came out. It’s actually a little different from the one on the OP*. I think my guy has a more suspicious look on his face than Malvina Hoffman’s does. He kinda looks like he’s giving someone the side eye. I guess it’s because of that dark line that goes up the slope of his nose and into his eyebrow.

I found Richard and Laurie in the museum cafe and showed them my drawing. They seemed genuinely impressed, which made me happy. Then they let me eat their leftover omelettes, which made me REALLY happy.

When we went on this museum visit I was in the middle of a very long period of creative frustration. Actually more like despair. A big writing project that I was (and still am) working on was not coming together, despite months (okay, years) of work that I’d been putting into it. And because of it, a low level bummer cloud had been hovering over my head for a while. Spending a few hours at the museum, hanging with two wonderful people, seeing lots of great art, and creating something myself–something that–

A) I was happy with

-and-

B) was actually complete

…was surprisingly soul-filling. It really lifted spirits that day. I think that’s why I love this drawing so much. Whenever I look at it, I am reminded of a really happy day in the middle of a pretty tough time.

Also, I just love using black and white conte on grey-toned paper. I really should do that more.

 

*OP – Original Piece

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