These are the words master penman Bill Kemp said to me as he observed me practice writing. We were at IAMPETH, in Omaha, NE. It was the evening study hours where masters and students met and worked sided by side, practicing and exploring, and enjoying each other’s company.
“Who’s Evelyn Wood?” I asked.
“Speed-reader,” replied Bill, who immediately laughed to himself, “shoot! I just showed how old I was!”
In a flash I saw that all my inadequacies were caused by an unreasonable desire to BE PERFECT instantly and the critic in me was compounding the pressure by telling me “Why aren’t you as good as everyone else around you?!”
When the good Lord said “Be ye Perefect as your Heavenly Father is perfect,” Christ knew he was talking to mere mortals who must learn things step by step. We noble critters must always achieve things by means of a process.
The problem is, often we forget that we are just that.
God is Perfect.
Angels are pretty close, and they know things instantly with infused knowledge.
And we mankind, well, half of us is spiritual and the other half drags along this crusty earth in these shells called bodies.
We’re meant to be in heaven as well, but for a while, we must, as it were, run with the wolves, and rise above our fellow [and inward] beasts.
The time in Bill Kemp’s writing class, like so many other things have done before, showed me to be okay with step-by-step progression. It also drove home the necessity to be conscious of where I am at and not to compare self to others.
My dear family reading this may be thinking, “Uh, Bridget, it’s taking you this long to see this?!”
Well, you know how it is, this whole life is full of conversions -reorienting- I’ve realized this continually in different ways over many years, and I’m sure I will continue to have these epiphanies.
But what I am so blown away by is how deeply I realize this when I do art. I’ve seen this in teaching, I’ve see it in home and family life, but nowhere else do I understand it as deeply as when I am drawing and painting.
Especially when I am trying force something out more quickly than it can come.
In those moments, it’s almost like a divine revelation and adoration all blended together.
In those moments it becomes so very obvious that I am not the source of my creativity – God is. I am merely an instrument, a plant who consented to produce flowers. But the power of the plant -the anima, the soul, comes from an external source, and that in turn chooses to rely on soil and nurturing.
Thanks Bill Kemp for your humorous honesty. Did you ever think one humorous comment would land something like this?
Two weeks later, back at commission work, I thought I could sit down and pump out the first draft of a Sacred Heart. I had done the thumbnail sample, no problem, so this one should be easy-peasy, right? Wrong.
First off, I struggled with the very things I left vague and unstudied in the thumbnail version.
Brush something under the rug and it WILL come back to haunt you! I was confronted with the understanding that I had to see, feel, touch, even taste through my fingers the understanding of the human body in order to recreate it in a slightly stylized way.
My own inadequacy was yelling at me in that moment, and a surge of words would not leave my head till I cleared them out by writing the following down on the sketch pad:
I see in my mind as I try to draw: -How much I need to slow down, -To carefully see -How much I need to daily practice to capture a body perfectly -To sculpt them from paper and take and breathe life into them So that they are brought forth: they rise from the page.
Slowing down…how hard it is to do. But in slowing down the mind is more receptive, open, and is ultimately able to contemplate.
So, at the kind Randal Hasson’s suggestion, I bought Andrew Loomis’ Drawing the Human Figure for All Its Worth and have since been reading, studying and practicing in order to birth a better figure for the commission I’m working on.
I’ve been trying to be more patient with the process, and guess what? It’s becoming a LOT more enjoyable!
That was some heavy stuff! Thanks for bearing with me!
I hope that you enjoyed this post and got something from it. I’d love to hear if you can relate to this story and process!
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The book I chose to bring and work in throughout all the IAMPETH classes except where pen only work was included is this trusty-rusty Travelogue journal by Speedball.