Portrait of an Old Man as a Young Artist (Part I)

I've always admired with envy those who have the talent to draw and paint, feeling that this is a talent that passed me by. I first read Betty Edwards' "Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain" many years ago. I was intrigued by the thesis, but didn't seriously pursue it. There were several times over the intervening years that I reread it and halfheartedly took stabs at some of the exercises, further convincing myself that this was a talent possessed by others, but not by me.

I picked up this wonderful book once again in November of 2011 with the resolve to get more serious about this drawing business. I don't know what was different this time--older, retired, shift in brain chemistry? Who knows? What I do know is that the results were positively mystifying. I recall repeatedly looking at my upside down drawing of Stravinsky in disbelief and amazement. I couldn't imagine that this was the product of my hand. Yet there it was. This experience repeated itself with other exercises in the book. I was "blown away".

"What next", I wondered. Serendipity delivered the answer when a class brochure from the River Gallery School here in Brattleboro, VT arrived in the mail. The course in Observational Drawing looked interesting but, despite my "right brain" successes, I was still in "be intimated by real artists" mode. Should I put myself out there or not? The answer was in the course description..."for experienced artists who want to hone their drawing skills and TERRIFIED BEGINNERS". Feeling well qualified for the latter, I signed up with both hope and trepidation.

Over the next few months I drew with abandon in class and out. These mostly charcoal on newsprint or pencil on typing paper still life drawings further inspired me to keep going.

Even more so my teacher, Jason Alden, and other students in the class offered kind encouragement and provided me with a vocabulary and structure for approaching drawing without hemming me into a specific approach. It was a chance to learn and explore without orthodoxy. This first class has led to a continuing exploration of artistic expression for which I'm most grateful.

The next installment of this blog carries this story forward.


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