After reading Wallace Stevens
Sign up for a drawing course and dive headfirst into a collection of the necessary materials. Graphite pencils, charcoal pencils and lead pencils, pieces of a torn tee shirt, kneaded eraser, pearl eraser, long metal ruler, 18"x24" newsprint pad, small pad for notes, box cutter, scissors, masking tape and a box to store, sort, and find the materials.
Check out books from the library on light and shadow, values, dark and light, 100 Ideas for Drawing
, Betty Edward's books. Take notes about seeing —really seeing edges, negative space, lights and darks, shapes, and details.
Remove the negative from a Kodachrome slide and use the opening to compose scenes. Walk around framing everything you see. Omit everything that doesn't appear within your rectangle. Hone in like a homing bird on the essentials.
I am looking at a salt and peppershaker in a silver toned holder. The pepper leans into the salt. They touch cap to cap. I note the shadows. So like people. One is stalwart and erect. The other needs support. The salt is homogeneous. The pepper is light and dark, each grain distinct. If I have to reside somewhere I'll stay with the pepper.
Go to art class and draw a still life. Look for those shadows; watch the tones, the values, and the shades of gray. Keep everything in proportion. How did that cylinder manage to be so large that it diminished the size of everything else? It isn't that large on the set-up.
Set-up the pad in your basement or on the kitchen table and draw. It's inadequate. Purchase a slanted table. No, not a table. A white board with angled legs. That works, but the pad slips off the board. Tear out a sheet and attach it with the clips. Now it's time to draw something. Select the small bamboo plant. Lucky Bamboo. Don't forget the shades of gray
Notice how much easier it is in class. The still life’s proportions become distorted on the board. Perhaps it's me. Think about a cheap easel. Search the Internet. Do you want to get one that's easy to take apart and light enough to bring outside for painting? I don’t want to drag a lot with me. Scratch outdoor painting. Get one that is sturdy and not expensive.
Travel down to Cambridge to see easels. Found one that seems perfect even though the edges are a bit rough. The edges can be sandpapered down or they can be covered with tape. It doesn't need to look attractive. People aren't perfect and it takes more than tape to smooth down rough edges. This is an easel ready for serious practice. Set it up and find a place in the basement to store the easel.
Take the brown water resistant carrying envelope that stores the 18"x 24" newsprint pad, long ruler, and 19" x 25" foam board to the basement. The foam board is used to tape up individual sheet of paper. The foam board is then placed on the easel. "It's harder surface," says the instructor, "and you can get a better range of shades of gray."
Classical music accompanies the drawing when in class. Go upstairs and get the small radio. Try and find a station without too many commercials, interruptions, and music you like. Go upstairs two flights and get the IPod and connecting cable. Connect it to the radio and play your own classical selection. You'll need more music. Try chants. Too slow. It puts you beyond a meditative state. You ponder the state of economics and start adding up what you have spent.
Get down to work. Set up an arrangement. Look through the viewfinder. Open the shades. Move the table to get good shadows. Set up the easel, tape your paper to the foam board, take out the viewfinder, find the appropriate composition and make that first mark. Ignore the phone.
Wonder why you selected that particular music? Darken that area. Contemplate color and reject it for now. Think about taking some photos and working from photos. Wonder about the quality of air in the basement. Wonder about the dripping you hear. Go to the window and look up. Do you see icicles, an ice dam? Procrastination. The sphere lacks form. You found out the difference between shape and form. Look at the negative shape. The word negative is redeemed. I like the concept of redeeming words. Dyke used to be a negative word until redemption.
Buy another flat metal pencil case to store charcoal pencils. The graphite pencils are in the first pencil case.
Practice. Practice. Practice before moving on to another medium.