Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Drawing Class, Day 1

I have always dabbled in artsy things. I loved art class in middle school, but gave it up for "academics" in high school because "smart kids" took calculus. I never considered myself good at art, but I remember the middle school art teacher being disappointed when I told her I'd dropped art from my schedule. I can still picture a pen and ink drawing I did of a plant in art class. I can't remember a single thing about calculus, despite tackling the subject twice more in college. Lesson learned.

So, to fulfill my artsy need as I made my way into the career world, I dabbled. I've tried drawing, sculpting, cross stitch, knitting, macramé, beading, sewing, more drawing, writing, more knitting, decorating...and you get the picture. I'm not good at any of them. I just liked to get creative sometimes. It was a nice balance for the left-brained world of accounting.

Yoga also helped me find some left brain-right brain balance. When I started teaching I found the act of creating a class very fulfilling. When I left accounting and started teaching full time, I felt like an artist. Now, after a year, I feel like a burnout.

Some days I just don't feel very creative. Some days I listen to myself teach and I am sure I'm the most boring yoga teacher ever. On those days my mind, instead of coming up with clever new sequences or adding a word that freshens the instruction of one asana, is busy babbling on about what a lousy yoga teacher I am. Hello, left brain. I guess doing yoga studio bookkeeping once a week isn't enough for you.

My teaching has felt really stale lately, and the negative self-talk is out of control. My left brain has been so busy being a critic that it can't keep track of my lefts and rights. If I don't keep those straight, my students end up looking like they're playing Twister instead of doing yoga. I needed a creative jump-start.

One of my yoga students, Anne, is a recently retired art teacher. She's beginning the next phase of her life by teaching classes and workshops for adults. She offered a six-week drawing class. Last week, on an impulse, I signed up. Yesterday was the first class.

After we talked for a few minutes, Anne told us to open our sketch pads and draw a person. I panicked. I don't draw people. I draw flowers. I draw trees. People are scary. They have too many parts that need to be in the right places. I spent the entire time (10 minutes - an eternity!) thinking that I had made a big mistake, that I wasn't as good as the other people in the room, and that I was never going to be able to face Anne again after this. Why, oh why, couldn't the first drawing be a daisy?

I'm sure you'd love me to tell you that the person I drew ended up looking great. But, honestly, it's pretty awful.

The class got better after that. We did some exercises designed to help us use the right side of our brain, focusing on lines and negative space instead of what we think the picture should look like. By the end of class, my left brain had mostly shut up.

We got homework. I sat and did some this morning. And I don't hate what I made. But really matters is that, while I was drawing, I started thinking that I should blog about it. So after the drawing I started writing. And while I was writing this I started thinking about yoga. Ah, the juices are flowing.

I thought about scanning that first drawing of the person to share it with you, but I really value the people who will take a few minutes out of their day to read this blog and just couldn't put you through that. Instead, here's a daisy...
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