Drawing from the heart.
It’s a phrase I learned at a young age I believe started by my 3rd grade teacher, Mrs. Brown. She had passed out to the class blank sheets of paper, some colored, some white, and instructed us to draw whatever we wanted. As I stared at that white paper my thoughts and my imagination became just as blank. Mrs. Brown came up and asked me, “Why haven’t you drawn anything?” I replied, “I don’t know what to draw.” She replied, “Oh that’s easy, just draw from your heart whatever you want.”
Yeah that made no sense.
So instead I drew what I could see. I drew pictures of my classmates sitting in front of me. I drew the door to the classroom. I drew the chalkboard in front of the room. And even though the drawing began to represent those objects, I never felt like an artist because I couldn’t draw from my imagination. I felt like a fraud.
I had the hardest time understanding what “drawing from the heart” meant for a long time. Past through the teenage years, through college, even up until recently it’s been very difficult for me to connect mind and heart to anything in my life. I have such internal struggles anytime I attempt to be creative or to try to use my imagination. If I had known then what I know now, I’m pretty sure art school would’ve been a very different experience. I know now there exists a disconnect that has kept those two halves, mind and heart, away from each other. Two sides fighting each other in order to establish their own right as sole owner of my motivations. An obstacle that has made is almost impossible to display any true, feeling-based creativity, that which exists beyond surface level.
But through different experiences and trials I can say I finally have access to the heart. I found that part of myself that can feel emotions deeply. I’ve been able to create abstract paintings and sketch from my imagination. And guess what?
It’s filled with pain.
All this time I thought if only I could draw from the heart, how beautiful my pieces would be! But is this the real journey I am on, trying to find beauty in pain? How do I do that? How can I take all that I’ve experienced in life and bring that to the surface, to represent me? Is art just a way for me to express my emotions and my pain or is it a way to mirror your own? Each artist around you, well the good ones, they are ripping their heart out and throwing it on paper or a canvas for the public to see, making themselves vulnerable to criticism, to rejection. And I believe it’s truly because as artists, if we don’t create then we die.
Art is in our veins, in our blood. It manifests itself in our personalities, our mannerisms, in our choice of what we put on in the morning, and in who we surround ourselves with. I feel like my identity as a true artist happened when I painted my first abstract picture, about 2 years ago.
So okay, then if this is the way to become a better artist, so be it.
Bring on the pain.
You really are.
Whenever I fail to write a new blog post, I feel like I have to come up with excuses. Instantly I’m a 6yr old trying to explain to my mom why I still haven’t picked up my toys off the floor. Or I’m a 16 yr old who is trying to reason why I’m trying to sneak in 10 minutes past my curfew. (I always got caught) Needless to say, I feel guilty if I fail to do what I should be doing, like writing a blog post.
Is that a good thing?
Oh don’t get me wrong I have excuses, viable excuses why I’m just now publishing a post. I could easily tell you I spent my entire weekend in a Photoshop class in SF. (It was amazing and exhausting) I could mention the fact that I’ve been to the hospital 2x in the last few days to deal with some excruciating throat and ear pain. (I’m on a crapload of drugs now) But I recognize I’m not a child who hasn’t cleaned their room, nor have I missed curfew. So why do I feel the need to share an excuse?
The funny thing is I know all this is in my head, the guilt is completely self-imposed. I can see now I’m not being realistic and my expectations for life might be to high for me now, thus leading to constant disappointment. Maybe it’s time for me to recognize I have health limitations, that they do exist. Maybe I need to understand that no matter how hard I push against them I just can’t do things the way I used to do. Maybe until I do I could, in fact, be damaging my health further.
After all this blog is not supposed to be another way to pile unnecessary guilt on myself. As you can see, I have more than enough and besides, it truly isn’t a good way to inspire anyone. This blog is supposed to be encouraging me to stay on track, to help in finding out what it is I love to do.
So last weekend I was reminded of something I’m sure I love to do.
Let me share with you some sketches from my BART rides last weekend.
Ultimately I do need to find a new way to be motivated. I’m done with all this guilt. However I’m not sure where to start or what that even looks like, a positive inclination versus a negative one.
So let me ask you, my readers, what motivates you?
So my friends have returned back to their land of scotch whiskey and tartans. We had so much fun spending time together the whole month they were here! One of the days was spent taking a ferry from Vallejo to SF. If you love the ocean like I do, do yourself a favor and spend a day experiencing this. To be on the ocean and to soak up the sun was incredibly calming and peaceful. I only regret I hadn’t done it sooner.
For a couple hours I was popping in and out of the stores avoiding the mass-produced keychains, buttons, and t-shirts with “I ❤ San Francisco” on it. Of course I always look for my name on the personalized key chains (still nothing for Nichelle) and try not to cringe anytime I see the all too familiar phrase, “I left my ❤ in San Francisco.” I picked up one of those coffee mugs with an illustration of the Golden Gate Bridge and I wonder, did Tony Bennett really understand how much his song would promote SF to the rest of the world? In reality Tony probably knew as much as Prince did, when he himself produced the song “1999”. To this day I cannot listen to “1999” anymore because of the sheer amount of times it was played around 1998/1999. If someone ever tells me we need to party like it’s 1999..
I might just shiv em.
I didn’t expect it while I held that mug in my hand, but it made me realize there is a world out there that is much greater than the world I have built around me. I look up and suddenly I’m aware of all the different couples picking up the “I ❤ San Francisco” t-shirt excitedly looking for their size, speaking in rapid Korean or searching out for their name on a key chain asking in German their friends’ opinion. It’s important to play tourist every once in awhile because it helps you to get out of your head, to avoid your struggles for a moment. It reminds you of all the cultures that you can experience, the museums you can peruse, and the landscapes to gain inspiration from. It inspires you to travel yourself.
So hopefully one day when I can afford it, I’ll be the one looking for an “I ❤ Shanghai” t-shirt in my size and excitedly finding mugs with the the Eiffel tower on them. And instead of pretending to be a tourist, I’ll actually be one.
But no matter where I am, or who I am with, or what I am looking at, I know I will never be able to find my name on a key chain.
Cause there are some things in life that just don’t change.
You could say I’ve been busy.
In fact I’ve been going through older drawings continually trying to find clues as to what I really like to draw, instead of what I’m good at. During my search I found a picture I sketched of Coco Rocha many moons ago from the cover of Harper’s Bazaar. I decided to look up her FB page and post the picture…just because. Here it is: (you can also find it on my FB page Nefairious Design)
So we’ll see what comes from that.
Next I decided my drawing of the day would be more than one person. Found a magazine photo and sketched it, fairly straight-forward in the scribble pen and ink style of my last drawing.
Here it is.
Perhaps I can get that dollar for it…
I’m happy to say I have been drawing / sketching daily since I made my promise with all of you.
However I’m finding the more I create, the deeper I get into myself. True, I find my imagination is already expanding in ways I never thought it would. But it seems like the stronger I get and the more determined I am to keep going, there is a part of me that wants to hold me down. It tries to keep me where I am, in a state of pure inactivity. Perhaps it could be that section of your brain that prefers to be lazy or it may be some deeper truths I need to face.
Either way it’s been a bit of a struggle.
So to push through this obstacle I went back to my original daily list of exercises and came up with Creative Bliss Day 2: 11 Ways to Spice Up a Team Brainstorm. Once again, it really didn’t have any relevance to me so I had to read in between the lines. I chose: Create a picture that sums up your day.
That’s a good way of looking at it.
But think about it, if I spend even 30 days practicing a craft I’ll automatically be better than I was when I started. So yes you are now seeing the worst sketch.
Of course when I sat down, I hit a creative block. So I began to look for ways to think and see differently on the interwebs. I eventually found this, 30 Days of Creativity Exercises
The first step is called “The Peep Challenge.” Apparently you are supposed to buy some Peeps and create something with them – a diorama, collage, a graveyard- anything. However since it’s not April and there aren’t a plethora of Peeps, I took it to mean: Play.
So I let my inner child out and gave her permission to draw, using the most child-like tools I could find – markers. The only rule I had for her was she couldn’t draw with her right hand. Nope, only the left. Needless to say it’s a scribbled mess full of bright colors, similar to what I would’ve done as a little girl. However when I was done with that, I grabbed another piece of paper and created the sketch above.
Not bad for the worst drawing of the year.