And so…it begins.

After seeing “Julie and Julia” this weekend, I’ve decided I’m starting a little blog project of my own. I suffer from the same disability as author Julie Powell did – that is, the inability to finish anything I start and so in the interest of becoming more artistically productive, I thought I’d take a page out of her book. After all, wasn’t it Picasso who once said, “When you see a good idea – feel free to rip it off”? Something like that.

Anyway, my project has nothing to do with food (although I wish it did). For years now I’ve struggled with my technical inability to create the kind of imagery I see in my head. It’s been extremely frustrating, seeing all the beautiful artwork being made out there by artists with more stick-to-itivness than I; obviously not frustrating enough though, considering my now decade-long procrastination in addressing the issue.

They say the first step toward recovery is realizing you have a problem. Well I finally realized I’m addicted to books, especially art books. It’s so inspiring to see an accomplished artist’s work–artists like say, James Jean or Wayne Thiebaud, compiled and printed in eye-poppingly gorgeous color. My book-buying habit began in art school when my excuse was that I needed to surround myself with influences and inspiration. It felt so important, buying glossy monographs from museum book stores, thinking the expense would be justified when my own work one day had the same representation.

The thing is, these books didn’t inspire me; they intimidated me. Looking at the work of mature artists gave me unrealistic goals. And when my own work was clumsy and ham-fisted by comparison, rather than trying again, I’d get distraught and mopey. Not knowing where to turn for solace, I’d head to the bookstore because what’s the solution to artistic inadequacy? Why, buying more books!

The ultimate result of this madness was creative paralysis; a lot of time talking the talk without walking the walk. Now that I’ve passed youth, that age of pure, undiluted potential and have arrived at an age where I should have done something by now, I find myself at the same impasse. So dammit, I’m taking the bull by the horns before I get too old to hold a paint brush.

My project? To work my way through William Kirby Lockard’s “Design Drawing” book from cover to cover. This book is nine years old and is in some ways dated; it mentions things like drafting paper and blueprints and suchlike, but it contains some of the best environmental design drawings I’ve ever seen.

It covers everything an aspiring environment designer would need to know, from perspective and composition to tonal rendering and shadow projection, teaching these principles through a series of exercises. This is–or should be–elementary stuff for an art school graduate like myself but funnily enough, the institutions of higher learning I attended were loathe to teach such things to future artists. So here we are.

At this point, putting an end point on the project is tough since drawing isn’t like cooking–you can’t say “bake at 400 degrees for 12 minutes” and it’s done. However, starting this without a goal in mind is a recipe for inertia, so…let’s say I finish this book and all the exercises in it by Christmas of this year.

In the absence of witnesses, I solemnly swear in front of myself, on my copy of the Letters of Vincent Van Gogh, that I will finish the work in this book by December 25th or forever resign myself to life in a cubicle.

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