Would it be too immodest of me to say that her comment prompted me to reread that post and to find myself thinking it was not bad at all?
Funnily enough, having enjoyed revisiting the post, I'd tucked it back in my mental filing cabinet, relegated it to near-oblivion, until I looked again at the page I'd inked in my sketchbook Saturday, sitting on a boulder in the shade, by the muddy shore of Burnaby Lake -- a page that first elicited frustration and dismay at my efforts.
In my defense, as you look at my journal page, remember that these waterfowl were moving constantly. And if you remember what I wrote last year, you might guess that, similarly, I admitted that I can't draw ducks and geese, but that I can sit and observe them and then move my pen on the paper to capture a sense of this movement or that. I tried to catch a sense of their fluidity and their squabble, their avidity, the attack-like motions of their heads and bills. I was happy to grab a fragment here -- the webbed feet of the geese, for example, or just the proportion of their legs under their bodies.
And should I ever get good at it, or even just arrive at "good" occasionally and fleetingly, they might know I did it via my mistakes.
Because those mistakes did lead me to that one goose bill above that I thought caught my sense of a Canada Goose head. Then later, at home, I decided it would be worth fiddling on a page, practising what it might take to get those bills. For this play, I let myself use a pencil, and I gave myself some stationary models. Not just stationary, but flattened onto two dimensions for me into photographs I found by Googling for images of ducks.
I think I'm onto something here, beginning to understand the ratio of width to length and the tiny curves in just the right places.
Discovering what my mistake-making trust in process led me to, I went one step further and -- for the first time in months, I took my teeny box of watercolours out. And for the first time in even more months, I pulled out some watercolour paper -- this particular paper bought in the form of a blank card -- and I quickly sketched a duck on it and began painting a mallard to decorate a granddaughter's birthday card. (Three-year-olds can be very generous art critics, is my hope. . . )
If you've made it this far, maybe you won't mind my telling you that I wake, many mornings, with a sort of existential weight, a doubt about whether it's all worth getting up for, an awareness of mortality and time passing and happiness being fleeting and ephemeral and even, in some ways, spurious. It only lasts a few moments, but there's often considerable resolve to get me up and out of bed, to get some tea into me and my pen in hand to talk myself back into the world via my morning pages (a fairly recent practice, as you might remember). So part of my writing here about mistake-making and process and the delights of play and of being imperfect in honour of observance and practice . . . .much of this is for my benefit, quite honestly. But I hope there might be something here you could relate to also.
I'm writing this on Sunday afternoon, scheduling it to post sometime tomorrow morning, and by the time I read your comments (Oh, I do hope you'll leave a few!), we'll be on the island again, in a different spot. He has meetings, and I'm going to soak up some Quiet. I'm also going to polish a post or two, and I have some exciting news for you -- there is another Garden Visit in the works for us. I'm not sure when that will happen, but stay tuned. . . .