This week I was digging through some old image files for one reason and another.  This one stood out as something interesting.

It was done during one of my private lessons while I lived in Madrid.

At the time, most of the drawings from those classes seemed un-interesting.  During classes, I mostly did figural works, both because it made it easier to present ideas to the children, but also because at a certain age (that these students were), students are more interested in plotting ways to draw real things.

But one of the students who was just learning to write was having a problem writing her letters facing the correct direction, and this was a visualization exercise that my mother found for me when I was a similar age, with a similar problem.  I’ve since used it to help students learn to see line and proportion in drawing as well.

Anyway, it’s funny that a drawing done in less than a minute during a class should stand out as something that I want to write about today.

It just goes to show that the values we place on our actions are often misaligned with reality.  Because of the context, and the fact that it wasn’t part of my pure artistic practice, I denigrated this drawing at the time.  But now, years later, I look at it and love the motion of the lines, and the play of positive and negative space.

That isn’t to say that I didn’t see value in it at the time it was made, just not artistic value.  At the time I saw how the series of mirror drawings we did helped the little girl get her “e” facing the correct direction.  I also saw what it could teach for future lessons.

Someone once told me that you never know how important something is at the time you do it, so you should just do things that seem to go in a direction that you want to go.  I guess this drawing is an example of that.

Putting the act of drawing into another context helps reduce self-imposed limitations of what a “good” drawing is.  It creates a separation from the usual process of drawing’s purpose, allowing a re-direction.

Life can be like that too.  Sometimes it’s easier to meet people, or make professional progress, when you are doing something unrelated.  It is easier to meet people, for example, when you go out with the purpose of walking the dog.  People talk to you because you are there with a dog, and they have a dog, and eventually you make friends.  But if you go out to the park (or a café) alone, it’s often harder because you are more intent on the purpose of meeting people, so your behavior can become stilted.  (At least this is true for me, and I suspect it is for many other slightly shy people).

Basically, moving through life with purpose is important, but assuming that the only thing that is being moved is the purpose that moves you is limiting.  I’m trying to remember this lesson right now.  That even if what I’m doing seems small, that in the course of every day life, other things of value ripple out from my actions and influence my life and the lives of others in ways that may not be visible now.

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