The Artist Formerly Known As … An Artist

Earlier this week, Pamela posted about teaching drawing and then shared a post to get her readers drawing. Both posts are wonderful.  When I read the first, I related so strongly to the student who announced that he couldn’t draw … and to Pamela’s desire to take an eraser to that statement.  Because I can’t draw … but I can, too.  I used to draw all the time, used to be pretty good at it, even.  And then suddenly I believed I didn’t know how to do it.  How did that happen?  In my life as a teacher, I drew on the board all the time.  I would always remind my classes just how much I couldn’t draw and ask them to be generous in their critiques of my illustrations.  And that wasn’t about being falsely modest.  Those drawings really weren’t good. 

Last night at the Museum, as Grace and I were heading out of the gallery, she asked me — totally casually, as if it wasn’t in any way a loaded question: “Do you draw?”  And I stuttered on my answer.  I was going to say, “No.”  And then I wanted to say, “Yes.”  And then I wanted to say that I used to but didn’t really …  And in the end I gave an answer that came out all of those things at once.  Grace laughed, said that she figured I must draw because I do so many other creative things.

That made me smile, but also made no sense, you know?  Just because I do other creative things (write, sew, knit, make paper, whatever) it shouldn’t automatically follow that I  would be able to draw.  And then it made me sad.  Because I could draw.  And how did that get put in a box at the back of a closet?  When did I stop drawing?  Why?

Pamela’s second post gives a step-by-step of how to draw an egg.  I haven’t tried it yet, haven’t given myself enough free time to have at it.  Maybe this weekend.  I don’t know if I can draw and egg, but I’ll try.  Maybe it’s the way to re-open the door to that skill I used to brandish proudly.  Maybe doing the exercise will jog something loose in the recesses of my brain, make me remember how I lost my drawing in the first place.


Read more slices at Two Writing Teachers


10 thoughts on “The Artist Formerly Known As … An Artist

  1. Teaching preschool got me back in the habit of drawing. I think I stopped some time when I was 8 because I draw horses like an 8 year old. But with my students, they think my horse are amazingly accurate representations! I draw, and I teach my students how to see too. I liked Pamela’s post too.


    1. I love that you draw like an 8 year old. Maybe I’ll discover that I draw like one, too. I was older than 8 when I stopped drawing, though. High school sometime? I have a memory of drawing about 10,000 versions of Nubble Light in Maine when I was in my teens …


  2. Paul

    So many doors we close and things we lose, for so many reasons. I may write about that in the coming days. I like the way this is a synthesis/collision of your experience at the Museum and the reading you’ve been doing in the slice community. For me, an unanticipated aspect of this is the development of connections and how the writing of others is leading me to ideas to write about.

    Happy drawing! 🙂


  3. Drawing is something I wish I could do. It’s a frustrating experience for me, to try to capture in illustration what I see in my head. When I was doing my webcomic, Boolean Squared (, I just resorted to having a few poses for characters and hoped the writing would carry the comic. My vision was always to connect with a “real artist” who could do the artwork, but that never happened.

    But, I try to remember that sense of frustration, too, when I ask my students to write. For some, it comes easy. For others, it is a struggle. I can connect with that frustration on some levels, you know?



    1. Oh, now see? I really liked the drawing you did for Boolean! I think of you as a “real artist,” Kevin … because you draw and write … and because you aren’t shy to put your work out there for people to see.


  4. “And how did that get put in a box at the back of a closet? When did I stop drawing? Why?”

    Okay, here I am with tears in my eyes as I read your slice.
    Your egg doesn’t even have to look like an egg, it may look like a rock or a frog, but it will look like you.
    And my new favorite quote
    Van Gogh’s theories of art and quoted lines written in a letter to Theo, “[R]eal painters do not paint things as they are…They paint them as they themselves feel them to be”
    There is no teacher standing beside you, telling you to draw like Mary sitting over there. Or a teacher showing you how to draw and then you COPY her to get a good grade.
    I wonder what boxes of myself I have in the back of my closet?


    1. Thanks, Pamela, though I’m sorry I brought tears to your eyes. Sadly, I think there are many things in that box at the back of my closet … and many other boxes besides. Time for a spring cleaning … in some ways these two weeks of SOLS writing have started that. Now I need to pick up my pencil. Pick up my pencil. Pick up my pencil …


  5. You have got me thinking…why IS it that we have this box in the back of the closet for stuff we used to like to/used to do? And, what is in MY box? Needlepoint, playing the violin, painting. I need to open some part of that box soon.


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