[Note: I wrote this last week and forgot to push the “publish” button. Here it is, albeit it’s a bit of old news]
Once a year I have a very humbling sketching experience. Actually, I have a lot of those but this annual event is particularly impactful. A group of us go to the local École de Cirque, a circus school in an old church, to sketch the circus students while they practice. Quite separate from sketching, it’s a very exciting time because the main hall is full of trampolines, trapezes, and open areas where these very talented people practice their trade. If nothing else it informs your brain that hard work is the road to being “talented.”
For me to begin sketching at the École de Cirque is hard for two reasons. The first is that I’m simply mesmerized by what is before me. There was a juggler who was balancing a ring on his head while juggling several other rings, passing smaller ones through the ring on his head as he juggled. He was amazing.
The other reason I have a hard time is that it’s just soooooo hard. I’m not good at sketching people anyway, but I can hold my own when sketching people who are sitting or standing and I even have a good chance at capturing people wandering around in a shopping center. In all these cases, though, I have points of reference. Feet on the ground, heads above feet… at least that. But in the case of circus performers I don’t even have that and I get very confused, very quickly.
There’s another thing and I wonder if I’m the only one who struggles with this. I can’t convince my brain that I actually have time to sketch these people. My brain seems to decide that if I can’t do the sketch in 10-15 seconds, I can’t do a sketch, which is untrue, even with the performers moving around so much. But my brain directs me to give up completely on size and proportion estimation and to just start scribbling – the end result being people that look like space aliens or melted people. I’m sharing some of these with you as an example of poor sketches that were a lot of fun to do. Too often I think fun and product get tied too closely together by many. They have nothing to do with one another.
Somehow, during the page above I decided that a divide and conquer strategy was in order, or maybe I was just fascinated how the well-muscled athletes provided a great opportunity to do “life drawing” while muscles were being exercised. That turned out to be a lot of fun.
In the end, I had a bunch of sketchbook pages and memories. Memories of how amazing these people were; memories of how hard it was for me to draw them, and memories of how much fun sketching is even if it’s not going as well as I’d like. I thought it only fitting for me to share these pages with you. I hope all of you are saying “I can do better than that” (grin)