Back to the drawing board, literally

One of the things I love about painting is the fact that I can compete against myself, and no one needs to know how close I got to achieving my goal.  So I can challenge myself and my successes can be celebrated, while my failures - or, in better terms, my not-quite-so-successful-attempts - can be minimized saving my ultra-sensitive, perfectionistic ego.

Yet, at the same time, to achieve success, for me at least, means continually readjusting the bar higher and higher.  In terms my manager/husband would use, I must constantly be setting goals.  So I am constantly looking for ways to measure my progress or challenge myself.  Not having ever really trained in or studied art, and not really being able to attend an actual atelier with kids in tow, I've decided to give myself an education from here at home - a homeschooled atelier.

I recently purchased 2 books to help me on this journey.  The first is Juliette Aristides' Classical Drawing Atelier.  I'm using this and her Lessons in Classical Drawing: Essential Techniques from Inside the Atelier as a kind of outline for what I must learn and how to go about improving my skills.  I'm starting with copying from the masters in graphite and charcoal.  To do this, I have also purchased Charles Bargue: Drawing Course as my textbook of copying material.

This is not to say I've given up on painting!  I am still painting every morning before little ones wake up.  But in the evenings I have my atelier homework.  Tonight - night 1 - I started with Bargue's Plate 1, a plate full of sketches of eyes.

It didn't look too difficult . . . or so I thought.  I carefully copied the first 2 sketches side-by-side - my trial run.

Then came the check.  I took tracing paper and traced the actual sketches, then laid it over my copies and marked any lines that were off in red.  The result is staggering, humbling, and makes me positively light up at the challenges ahead.

With a goal in mind of solid drawing and painting skills that can allow me to paint what I want with confidence and have the ability to express myself in paint without resorting to altering the painting merely to cover up errors, I find myself happily on step one of a long journey - long, but highly satisfactory.  And so, I'm back to the drawing board . . . . literally.