Drawing Play

A piece of oft-repeated advice for aspiring artists is to draw every day.  If, like me, you see this as an intimidating prospect, don't worry, it's not nearly as difficult as it might seem.  Because, when art is truly your passion, you'll draw every day whether you realize it or not.  Even if it's only a 30-second doodle on the corner of a napkin, it still counts.  Sure, realistic studies and laborious graphite sketches are wonderful ways to sharpen your draftsmanship, but you don't need to beat yourself up if you don't churn out a Da Vinci-esque sketch every day. 


Art, for me, is like deep stretching.  It's an ache I feel deep in my bones, and if I go too many days without some sort of artistic activity, I feel stiff and stifled (and usually grumpy).  Of course, there are many times where I'll set daily regiments for myself: watercolor studies at lunch, sketches from life, hyper-realistic painting.  But that by no means makes up the bulk of my artistic exercise. 

At heart, I am a little kid, and like a little kid, I crave play.  After all, studies have shown that play is one of the primary ways that children learn.  I don't think this changes as we get older, but that the need for play, for exploration and experimentation, intensifies as we age.  After all, it's something that, as adults, we don't always get a lot of. 


I have always loved coloring.  I mean.  Really.  Loved.  Coloring.  And I find that deep and powerful need to color expressing itself in a myriad of ways throughout my day: from rainbow-hued to-do lists to colorful palette blobs, to, you know, actual work.  I play in color, and not only does this bring me joy, but through constant dabbling, I find new color combinations, new ways to mix certain hues, different uses for even the most unassuming of shades.  Sure, a lot of these discoveries are accidents, but they are accidents that I work very hard to create.  


Naturally, I don't share most of my doodles and odd little sketches.  But that's okay, because for me, they've served their purpose.  Sometimes it's as simple as getting an idea out of my head, or testing to see how a different style would look.  They might not have a "greater purpose," but for a few minutes, I was able to enjoy the process of creating them and hopefully learn something in the process.  Even if it's something as simple as reminding myself to let loose and just play.