I usually read on the train, but the past few days I’ve been slightly sick and haven’t had the energy. Instead, I’ve been sketching on my mp3 player and I’ve been thinking about how deeply drawing has enriched my life, even though I’ve had minimal training in visual art and I only do it occasionally. (And yes, I use a Samsung mp3 player. I have complex taste in music and a very dumb phone.)

I feel proud of a few of my drawings, but it’s overwhelmingly about the process of seeing and feeling your surroundings with more clarity, appreciating tangles of lines by seeing them as individual threads and trying to translate indescribable textures through the mundane magic of graphite (/a magical mobile device with a drawing app).

Drawing is the best way to see beauty in everyday things. I have never drawn anything and decided “ugh, upon closer inspection, this thing is ugly” – drawing always transforms the dullest entities into rich, ravishing visions. I feel like self-portraiture could be good therapy for anyone experiencing body image issues – I sometimes feel like my hands are stubby and asymmetrical, but drawing them always makes me a little happier with them.

Some thoughts on how to get started drawing:

  • Anyone who can write legibly has enough coordination to draw. The main problem is seeing things as shapes, shades, and lines, rather than as symbols (e.g. representing a person as a stick figure).
  • How to avoid seeing symbols? Start with drawing something wrinkly and unrecognizable and try to replicate visible lines, but don’t bother looking at your drawing.
  • When looking at real objects, look at small parts. Follow a shirt collar instead of the shape of someone’s body, or your thumbnail instead of trying to draw a hand (not a pun).
  • At some point you’ll convince yourself to see things as they appear (rather than as they are, oddly), and then it might make more sense to plot out drawings by large shapes first.

Questions I have and may write more about later:

  • What are the ethics of drawing people on the subway when they don’t know they’re being drawn?
  • Should I get one of those Wacom tablets?
  • Should I pitch some kind of learning-to-draw app for our final projects tomorrow instead of whatever I do end up pitching?