When I go to visit my favorite art instructor in New York, Ann K. Lindsay, I am reminded of how actively my "critical mind" comments on my painting efforts. It makes me sigh sometimes, wondering if this will ever lessen. Ann says its always with us. And then I am reminded to "be kind," to step back and allow those critical thoughts and especially fears to subside. No effort is wasted. Our minds are learning, integrating, even when we think we're doing nothing.
For many of us, being kind to others is second nature. But thinking kindly about our own efforts, our practice before we get it right, doesn't come so easily. On a practical level, this critical thinking helps us fit in and strengthens our ability to cooperate in our families and community.But we also have our own perspective, an inner voice that allows for individual differences, our own uniqueness. And eventually we come to respect both the uniqueness in ourselves and in others. It is one of the joys of art classes. After a work session, we post our efforts on the wall and talk about what was hard and what we enjoyed, what we did and did not like about the effort. And when I look at everyone's work, it is wonderful, fresh and alive with discovery and uniqueness. When I am too busy with other things to practice drawing and painting, I come back to it with timidity. And that means my critical mind (which also seeks to protect me) is in high gear and shouting, "don't risk showing that to anyone." And so it was when I posted my first kinglet sketch.
I also stepped away from it leaving the sketch visible on my table until my opinions softened. I have since had time to create a few more sketches. And I learned that drawing a robin is much easier for me than a kinglet. The reason? I think its because angular shapes give my eye something to grab and work from. Angles break up the shapes. I sketched this robin in only a few minutes and was pleased with the first effort even though the legs are a bit short. The ease of this sketch could be from having seen many robins, even though this is my first attempt to draw one. But it also could be that sketching the kinglet warmed me up and quieted my doubt. Probably all of the above!
Critical thinking and seeing work together as we draw, paint, live life. Sprinkle in a little kindness as you practice and watch what happens.
Coming up: My Thanksgiving visitor and the painting
Ocean Trail at Palos Verdes Nature Preserve, California--2015
Bird-banding at Seven Islands State Birding Park--2014
Bird-banding at Seven Islands
Enjoying Gray Jays in Churchill!--2014
Smithsonian National Zoo with one of my Whooping Crane banners and son, John--2014
The Incredible Muir Woods near Stinson Beach, CA--2014
Me and Denali--2012
For the Love of It...
...the sage sees heaven reflected in Nature as in a mirror, and he pursues this Art, not for the sake of gold or silver, but for the love of the knowledge which it reveals.