Sunday, June 16, 2013

Annie's Journal and an Idea

Today I got an email from my friend Annie who is off in Santa Fe this week teaching at Ghost Ranch.  She sent me a page from her journal, always a treat.  I really enjoy her clean black lines and integration of text and image in elegant layouts.  But this page has really got me going in a way that I may regret:  read the Chinese drawing adage on the right hand side of the page-- To learn to draw you must draw the 10,000 things.

I started thinking about how long it would take to draw ten thousand things, even if you counted every object in a drawing as a separate thing (ex. on this page Annie drew three things by my definition).  I wondered if I could draw 20 things a day, and if so could actually draw 10,000 things in the next year and a third.

So I wrote to my journal group and sort of hinted at this challenge.  And then I decided to try it out for a few days before actually making a public commitment.  And then I decided what the heck-- I am IN.  So I'm publishing my 10,000 things, beginning here and now with this drawing that I'm going to do right now, as a thunderstorm is brewing and mosquitoes are gearing up for the evening raid-- I'm headed out to the woods now, with pen and paper in hand---

(45 minutes later)
Okay, my ankles are on fire with mosquito bites, and I got a little bit wet, but it was worth it!  It's a dark, overcast evening, and as I headed into the woods the first thing that grabbed my eye was a single orange daylily growing along what used to be the entrance drive to an old inn.  All that remains of the inn are the stone foundations, some front porch steps, and some trees planted in a row and naturalized day lilies and daffodils.  So drawing 1/10,000 is of one of the last remaining day lilies.  A little further along the trail is an old apple orchard that is being brought back to life by college students from the nearby campus.  I liked the hump of a mulch heap in the tall grass around the trees silhouetted against the dark of the woods.  Drawing 3 homes in on a couple of immature apples.

I then began to walk a bit faster as the rain was starting and I wanted to get in a walk as well as a stroll and sketching.  But as I headed up the steep part of the trail I heard a rustling in the woods beyond a bend and then caught a glimpse of what looked like an orange and white dog tail as the animal bounded back into the brush.  I don't like to run into dogs in the woods without their owners in view, so I went back down the trail and headed up another trail that runs parallel to the first one.  After a few  minutes along this trail I heard rustling again.  This time it was in a field right behind me as I stood getting ready to draw some mushrooms.  I turned around just in time to see the tail of a large fox as it bounded into the deep woods!  So drawing 4 is just a bunch of scribbles, a gesture drawing of that great plume of a tail like a flame rising up and then vanishing!

Foxes are hard to spot I think.  I've only seen one other in the 23 years that we've lived in this valley, and that was a well-known fox that had a hole in the middle of a field where I often took my drawing class to sketch.  One day the fox sauntered out and crossed the field while we sat there in astonishment.  So tonight's fox was a rare treat, and I feel like my challenge is off to a lucky start!

Back home on the front porch, swatting mosquitoes, I was telling my husband about the fox, and he pointed out the little bluebird sitting on the telephone wire that crosses our front yard (drawing 5).  This bluebird and his wife and several batches of babies have perched on that wire for three years.  We were happy to see that he is still successfully eluding Jesse, our semi-feral cat.  Now I have only 9995 to go.


  1. That is an ambitious goal, Gwen. It would scare me - but you are intrepid. (Particularly since you are willing to head out just as the mosquitos are swarming.) Will be fun to watch your progress.

  2. How inspiring. If a person just got inspired to draw everyday this would be a worthwhile challenge. just might give it a try. No time limit just draw.

  3. A great idea. I hate to count, but am sketching hummingbirds which I have a multitude of so I think I'm well on my way. So I accept the challenge.

  4. Hm-m-m. Realistically maybe I could manage 3 drawings a day, which would take me roughly 9 years, which would make me about 83 when I get really good. OK, on that basis, I accept! Something to keep me going.

  5. Thanks, Everybody! Teri- this is nowhere NEAR as daunting as Pat's walking -with-a-pedometer thing last year! Rita and Margo and Alice- keep us posted!

  6. Gwen, just saw a link to cool! If you don't mind, I'd like to share the link in my newsletter.

  7. Wow! And look how far you've come! What a great challenge to yourself! You are a terrific inspiration! Thank you! ♥