Sunday, January 15, 2017

Starting Over

Yesterday I went out sketching with my wonderful local Urban Sketching group. I'd not sketched in months, for a host of reasons and really, no good reason. Work. New puppy. Holidays. Other creative distractions. So, in some ways, opening up my sketchbook and putting pencil to paper felt like starting all over again. I was a bit nervous. I was silently giving myself permission to make a total mess, to draw badly, and I was reminding myself that just DOING it was the goal of the day.

Because it was chilly out, two other lovely sketchers and I opted to go into a cafe to sketch there. So, I dove in with some quick pencil sketches.

And immediately I realized something. I chose to start with a person! How weird is that? I've been intimidated about drawing people forEVER.  And it struck me that an online class I took last February from the amazing Roz Stendahl (Drawing Live Subjects in Public) had actually moved me forward a good bit. I wasn't that bothered by the fact that people were moving around while I was trying to sketch them -- which was something that seriously freaked me out when I started trying to draw actual living things.

 So as I did a few more fast pencil sketches of the people in the cafe, I just let myself enjoy it. No, I didn't tackle any faces, but heck, when starting over, one starts gently.

Eventually, food arrived, and I decided to move to another subject that is always fun and relaxing for me. I drew my breakfast -- quickly, because I wanted to eat it while it was hot. And as I scribbled wiggly lines for scrambled eggs, I was thinking about how often I've done painstaking, detailed drawings and agonized over color and shading, and then I end up liking the things I dashed off quickly better.

So, the result wasn't a brilliant food painting. but I can recognize the croissant and scrambled eggs and even the strip of bacon, and if all this does is remind me of a lovely breakfast with some fellow drawing enthusiasts on a frosty January morning, then the sketch has done its job. 

I had this same sort of experience again last week when I went back to singing with my local chorus after a 9-month hiatus. I was a bit apprehensive. I wasn't sure how it would feel. But immediately I was met with warm greetings and big hugs from chorus friends I've missed. Diving into the music (Gershwin! Kern! Berlin!) made me happy. And adding my voice to the group's felt familiar and comfortable. I found myself thinking about the very first time I'd gone, and how timid and uncertain I'd felt during that whole first season. I don't think anyone around me even heard my voice, I was singing so quietly and carefully. This week, I realized that I was singing confidently. I felt comfortable with my own voice.  What a realization!

Thinking about these experiences has gotten me reflecting on the experience of starting over. I'm starting anew in various areas of my life right now. Some days it's quite disconcerting. But I'm realizing that each time I start again, I start in a new place -- and one that's further ahead than where I was when I started last time.

So my backyard garden? It's kind of a disaster right now. It needs some serious energy to clear out the old dead stuff, tidy up, and plant some new things.  But there are plants that are thriving, if wildly overgrown. There is an established framework. So, starting to get that back in order won't be like starting to plant when it was a bare expanse of dirt. I'm starting again, but not starting with nothing.  Same with the exercise and nutrition issues. I lost some weight last year following a rather strict eating regime. And then I slid back into some habits, gained some weight back. But starting over means I'm still ahead of where I was last time -- both in pounds and in knowledge. I know what has worked and what didn't.  

January always feels like a natural start for new things, new perspectives, new goals. Sometimes I think, "oh, tried starting this thing last year" or "I set that goal last year and look at how far I haven't come."  But today I'm thinking that part of starting is understanding where we are, and how often where we are right now reflects growth from where we were before. 

Any thoughts, friends? Are you starting again at something right now?


1 comment :

  1. I started a fitness exercise class. Taking an online sketching class from Liz Steel. Thinking about going to Chicago for the Urban Sketchers annual meeting. Thanks for your blog post.