Can I draw? - Day 1 / by Frixos Masouras

So here I am. After volunteering for this experiment I find myself, pencil in hand, staring at that scary blank paper. "What experiment?" you ask. Well, to simply answer the question in the title.

After discussing the concept of "talent" (does it exist?) on this week's ThumbCast we decided to put it to the test and following a, literally, ten minute introduction to portrait drawing by our in-house artist Ioanna Kythreotou I got down to business once I was within the confines of my lair. 

Before we go any further it must be noted that being able to draw does not mean being able to draw the Mona Lisa on a moment's notice. Being able to draw could mean anything, really, because how could we know what we can or cannot do if we do not try? 

First and foremost I must point out that I am a clean slate when it comes to visual arts such as painting and drawing. The last time I attempted to visualise something using a pencil (not involving words) I was probably 14 years old. And by my calculations that's a shit-load of time. After wrapping up our weekly ThumbCast, Ioanna showed me in a ten-minute presentation the basics of drawing a portrait. A human face.

In theory, I must say, it sounded and looked so simple! Of course her hands are well-experienced and explaining (even in those ten minutes) actually delayed her in completing that tutorial portrait. It is the one in the middle in the main picture above the article itself, I am sure it is very hard to miss, especially in comparison to the ones laying by its side. Once I placed the pencil on the paper however, something dawned on me. It is not difficult AT ALL! Does it look good? Does it matter?

Everyone, meet Mr. "Tutorial". This is the ten-minute introductory portrait mentioned above.

Everyone, meet Mr. "Tutorial". This is the ten-minute introductory portrait mentioned above.

The process of creating those two portraits was actually refreshing and rather serene. The only true comparison I have to this is writing. And that involves losing myself in my thoughts and just letting my hands (fingers) do the rest. Pressing a pencil to paper was a different beast on its own! My mind was not working, I found myself not thinking at all. If it makes any sense, my eyes were the instrument that worked the most. Which I found surprising. 

Following her instructions, I began drawing portrait "A". In a somewhat backwards move I also erased and corrected things I considered mistakes. Andreas had pointed out that it would be important not to erase at all. Instead, work only with a single pencil and use every mistake I do as a guideline in how to better myself. Nevertheless, here is portrait "A":

He looks angry. Or sour! Maybe both. But yeah, Day 1: A

He looks angry. Or sour! Maybe both. But yeah, Day 1: A

After finishing the first one I decided to start a second one. This time, no eraser. Just the pencil and the paper. I must admit I felt more free knowing that I didn't have to correct anything. Just letting the pencil work felt good. Again, zero thought. Just my eyes guiding my hand. Here is Mr. "B":

Not as angry! I decided that he would have a bald patch. Don't ask me why. So, Day 1: "B"

Not as angry! I decided that he would have a bald patch. Don't ask me why. So, Day 1: "B"

Observations: Well, the main shape of the head is clearly huge! I am not sure what else to say about this first two portraits other than "They suck!". Which they are meant to. We have mentioned this many times in the ThumbCasts and I am sure we will repeat this ad nauseam. You MUST fail. There is no progress without failure. What I have observed (and I mentioned this above) is how the experience of drawing feels. I usually talk to myself, not sure if that's OK, and while drawing I told myself "dude, don't tire your lines. Just go through with them". My hand actually followed that advice after that realisation. I stopped following through with the pencil in my attempts to better the shape or correct the line. I just went through with them. It was a tiny epiphany. Like a single raindrop falling from a greying sky on a dusty car. Minuscule in the grand scheme of things yet it left a small clean speck. 

I love adventures and this certainly is one. It goes without saying that you (yes, YOU!) can try this at home. All you need is pencil and paper. 

Day 1, out.

 

- Frixos Masouras 2014 -