I've been applying to a few art festivals recently and most of the applications ask about process. This seems necessary to me for certain crafts or innovative designs but for drawing? Doesn't everybody know what that is? Or maybe it's what I do and it's just harder to talk about my own work. So I started paying closer attention to what drawing is for me. Here's what I gathered from a recent start to finish:
I drew these elephants first in my sketchbook. Sometimes it takes a few rounds before I land on one that's right. And right is just a feeling. It's some kind of internal compass or maybe barometer that let's you know what's up. It's not something I can articulate or quantify really, but it's there and you can't get around it. It's something like a tension inside yourself that says 'this isn't quite working' and so you draw another one, and probably another one until you having a sneaky feeling that you just drew 'the one' but you draw one more to confirm and then there's this little kid excitement that comes over you and you can exhale a little bit because now this internal meter is pointing at 'this is right. this is communicating.'
The ultimate goal is to make my drawing feel the same as my internal heart/head/gut is feeling when I consider a particular emotion. And in considering an emotion that I want to communicate, I usually go straight from a gut emotion to drawing. I feel it in my body, that weight or lightness or comfort or sadness, and then I draw it in the figure. So, I skip words. For me, it's a more direct path to someone else's gut. There's no translation. Of course, this all has to change when working with a client. When you're working with other humans, at least in a professional setting, it almost always has to start with words. For those scenarios I try to absorb the words until I don't have to think about them anymore and it's just a part of my mindset, and in my muscles...and then I draw. One step back, two steps forward. Still the same process.
After that? It's about hitting the same bell with the final drawing/painting that rung with that first sketch. Am I adjusting the figure/composition in ways that make it better or have I gone astray? Did something get lost? Is it too tight or more fully realized? Of course, in the end it's still pretty subjective. Shoulder shrug. But hopefully it resonates with someone out there.