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  • Stuart Simler

Putting Yourself on the Canvas

Risk all to find out more, why it’s important to weigh up the risks and put them in perspective. During my time teaching life drawing classes to adults as part of our community and leisure offer, I frequently have conversations with students or heard myself saying things that returned me to this subject, a theme I first encountered during my time at university. Standing at the easel, drawing from a live model in a studio space, I problem solve at a high level of intensity as I respond to the task in hand, attempting to recreate life as I observe it. Often attached to this process is a certain amount of pressure pushing me to do a good job, not to make a mistake. If I focus really hard I’ll produce one of my best drawings yet….as long as I don’t try anything too risky or experimental! At this point it’s good to ask the question; what’s the worst that could happen? I ruin my drawing…but would I ever really ruin it?

There is a point at which this might happen but usually most pieces are recoverable and actually the act of pushing our own limitations results in adding value to the piece. Even if it does not reach a completed fruition initially intended, we have added more to the creative journey and often in an unexpected way. With anything that relies on a timeframe and this is definitely the case when working with a model, it is a case of time running out that lures us into playing it safe and becoming precious about the final outcome. I’m not going to be so glib as to repeat that we; learn more from our mistakes than our successes…even though I just have but this saying doesn’t really give credit to the intricacies that flood our mind as we problem solve and question while observing a life form posing for a fixed period of time in front of us. These invisible battles are personal ones and the magnitude of them is realised only by us in the moment. My advice is to break the pattern, go too far, even if it means you’ve ended up with your least successful drawing yet - what you loose in representation will be replaced ten fold by your growth in confidence as you break through to a new space from which to develop your creative intelligence.

FYI...the image shown is one of my own charcoal pieces, produced during a series of short demo excercises. The key theme was brushing away the past and creating something new. I'm really happy with raw essence of this drawing.


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