Getting reacquainted with an old friend

It’s the month of October and you know what that means in the House of Wendy world – time to start a new night class.

What with one thing and another I was late to enrol – one week by all accounts which dramatically impacted on the available spaces on the courses I fancied. But, being in a similar situation in the past, I called with a list of six possibilities in mind. Typically, the course which i could join was number six on my list – life drawing.

Back in the 70s resources were scarce, I recall not even being able to find a kitchen roll in which to join in the Blue Peter making fest, and even in my teens I used flour and water to stick my Smash Hits posters to the wall – please don’t try this at home – it took about two days to tear down my Boy George posters!

So, I grew up with my trusty pencil and used to spend hours drawing, doodling and just having a good time (I did grow up in the countryside!)

As I matured (we are still just talking late teens here), off I went to art college and was introduced to the world of letraset and magic markers and my then fav; acrylic paints. Later still, water colours, oil pastels, inks and then fabrics – where I kind of got stuck. Somehow my love affair with my trusted and humble companion – the pencil – was lost; or so I thought…

In preparation for my new night class, I had to stock up on supplies – yeh, any excuse! Off I went to buy some new sketch books, pastels and charcoals but I also raided my old stock and stuck a few different type of HBs in my pencil case – just in case.

Week 2 of the course (my first); I scanned the room and everyone had a pencil in their hand and a naked lady in front of them. So, naturally I followed suit – no don’t fret; I did not get naked 😉

It was weird, so very weird; it was like this alien object had jumped into my hand. Although I’m ole skool and like to write with a pen just as frequently as I tap away on my keyboard, a pen is for writing – but what do you do with a pencil? Draw? Please remind me, how do you do that again?

Luckily the teacher (or sorry, are they called tutors nowadays?) must have noticed my reticence and as someone asked him to demonstrate ‘construction drawing’ and that funny thing all artists do with a straight arm and one eye wide open to measure angles and space (???) asked me if I’d like to join them. Hell, yes please.

I stood, watched and listened; returned to my board (I wasn’t quite ready to take on the easel in my first sess) and felt a bit overwhelmed. How come something that was so natural for so many years of my life, now seemed so distant and difficult? We were only doing 10 minute sketches and tried as I could, I couldn’t even get by the first stage of my constructed lady – four (two minute) attempts later and I was like a deflated balloon.

Luckily, we stopped for a cuppa and then the session got overtaken with obligatory box ticking paperwork – I was quite pleased; I know how to use a pen!

I returned home and reviewed my efforts – they are pretty dire; but quickly came to realise that you just can’t just rekindle a relationship after 20+ years no matter how close you once were. It takes time, practice and a bit of getting to know you. I am, sincerely, hoping that with a bit of patience, commitment and familiarisation me and my pencil can at least become friends again, if not long lost lovers! Watch this space x

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