ジャッキーがスケッチした５枚のうちの３枚 JACKIE HOFFART PHOTO
I've always thought of myself as a creative person, but not as an artist. I used to enjoy art class as a child, but at some point I think I sensed I didn't have a natural talent for traditional arts like drawing or painting. In junior high and high school, I never took elective art classes. I thought artistic people had access to something I don't, and that there would be no point in trying. But I was wrong.
One day, when I was about 20, an artist friend was giving a drawing workshop to a bunch of kids, and I sat in on the class just for fun. Then she said something really simple that totally changed my perspective: "Just draw what you see, Jackie, anyone can do it. Just look really hard and draw what you see."
She was right. I found that if you really concentrate on the shapes and shadows and draw as you see, you really can do it. And the drawings look surprisingly good!
I felt so surprised that I could draw — just by concentrating hard on what I was seeing and trying to put that down on the page — that I started doing it all the time. I would draw pictures of lampshades, chairs, people on trains ... whatever was around.
As with most passions from my early 20s, my interest in drawing has waned with age. So when a reader suggested an artistic challenge, I got excited to try drawing again.
I thought a reasonable goal would be to try and draw one picture of a person per day. I wanted the extra challenge of drawing people because they have so many complex lines and are difficult to capture. I bought a new notebook and set to drawing.
I had forgotten how consuming an activity drawing is. It's difficult to draw while out with people, or anywhere on the go, really. And your subjects also need to sit still long enough for you to draw them, which is tricky. I had to draw people in coffee shops, restaurants and on longer train rides.
In the end, I did five drawings over 10 days, basically one every other day. Twice, the person I selected to draw left while I was still "setting up" the world around them, so I ended up with two people-free drawings.
While drawing, I would always try to simplify my task by cutting out unnecessary details in order to capture one "story" (a tired old man sitting at the counter) rather than an entire complicated scene (bustling cafe with a tired old man sitting at counter). I cut out many trees, eliminated counters, took out peripheral people, chairs, etc. You can change the scene you're drawing and still represent it truly. You are free to improvise!
I found this challenge to be really pleasurable despite having some trouble integrating it into my day-to-day routine. Doing a little sketch takes roughly the same amount of time as smoking two cigarettes — in other words, it doesn't take long.
I think it would be really enjoyable for me to keep this up if I can. My sketches aren't that great, if I'm honest, so it would be nice if my actual skill level improved, but I want to keep it up because the act of drawing little sketches brings the world into focus in a new way. I still think that talented artists have access to something I don't, but that doesn't mean it's not a valuable or fun thing to try.
It's amazing how drawing allows you to discover an entire universe in a small moment. What does that body language say? Why is he fidgeting? What are they talking about? There's so much going on everywhere, all the time.
I've enjoyed turning my attention level up really, really high for these short bursts. It helps get me out of my head. Plus you get a little gift when you're done: the drawing!
If you think you can't draw, you are wrong. Anyone can draw. "Just draw what you see." Start by drawing simple fixed objects, like chairs and tables. It's really fun to see what you can do if you just allow yourself to try!
Next time: What if I ... eat peculiar Japanese foods?