It’s amazing how much time I can spend on one drawing. The beauty of a residency is that one can focus on particular subject matter and delve into it. But sometimes I felt overwhelmed by my desire to find a focus quickly.  The tree, wire, and rope provided that much needed focus.

Applying the texture from rubbings made me “feel” the surface first with my hands and eyes before I worked back into the charcoal with erasers and white chalk. 

Some drawings came together quickly, like the one below, in an afternoon.

Other drawings, like this one with the prominent knotted wire, I struggled with every day for nearly two weeks. I finally resolved it. 

As I look at these collages of the drawings’ progression, I see how I learned from each drawing and then took those lessons into the next. 

I learned that how I start a drawing is crucial. If I jump in too quickly or render something too literally , I can get hung up on that object (like the knot). If I start more gradually and try to get at the essence of something, like the tree bark, the drawing has room to evolve. Learning to be methodical but flexible was another important lesson. I observed the rope and the shadows it cast very carefully, but I then felt confident enough to let my imagination direct where those shadows would lie in the composition. 

The first tree drawing with the wire was my breakthrough.  Working intensely after that meant I made some steps forward as well fell back sometimes to old habits. I’m still trying to process it all. I know I tend to worry a lot about what I draw. I’m learning that it doesn’t matter so much what I draw, it matters more how I draw it.