Thursday, April 2, 2015

When the Scribbles Become Really Important

Amidst my fussing last week about not being able to draw my dogs very well, one of my dogs, my ten year-old German Shepherd, Desmond, was diagnosed with advanced and aggressive bone cancer.  Suddenly it seems like my inability to even scribble him is a tremendous failure on my part.  He's going to be gone from my life in a matter of weeks.  And yes, I can always work from a photo. But it isn't the same.

So now I'm spending a lot of time sitting with him, because he's happy, sedated and slow on his limp.  Every now and then I take a break from my "real job" work and try to draw him.  Here's an example, three blind contours I did of him in a total of under two minutes.

I feel like these quick contour scribbles catch the essence of him lying in his chair, gazing out the window at the coming spring.  Even if no one else looks at them and sees this--I do.  And because I drew it, I will always remember it.  I am reminded:  it doesn't matter if the scribble is "good art."  It only matters that I pay attention, create the scribble, and look at it.

The other thing I've been doing these last few days is scanning and organizing older sketchbooks and iPad art.  I'm finding some amazing things as I look back on this old work:  I actually can scribble my own dogs and capture their spirits quite nicely when I'm not thinking about it.  Here is a snippet from a comic I drew in 2011, when a close friend of mine was dying of cancer.  I was thinking about him, not my dogs--and looking at it, I can feel again the simultaneous dismay and comfort of this rainy March walk with my dogs in the woods.

Finding this old scribble (drawn in ink and colored on the iPad, fyi) has renewed my belief that daily sketching changes lives.  Well, at least it changes mine.  I am changed now, today, because of that sketch I did in 2011, and because of everything it calls to mind about presence, life, comfort, death, rainy walks in the woods, and love.

Not bad at all.


thewildhare said...

Beth, my thoughts are with you and your puppies. I lost my glorious heart dog last August to a very rare aggressive bone cancer, and I know how challenging this time is for everyone. I am delighted that you can capture his essence sitting in the sunshine. I never scribbled my little boy, and I am sure these pictures will bring you love and comfort when you need them. ❤️

Unknown said...

Beth, Thoughts are with you at this time. You are doing a great thing (you should be proud and relieved that you have a way of etching him onto your memory in this way)-your sketches do SOO SOO catch him and his spirit. They are wonderful drawings and the best thing you can do now is to draw him as much as is possible. You will treasure these precious times for ever and you will have the drawings to look back on and remember him. With best wishes and positive thoughts. Liz

Beth said...

Thanks, Kimberly. "Glorious heart dog" is a great phrase. As a friend reminded me, you can scribble him even after he's gone, using photos. Have you tried that?

Beth said...

Hi, Liz, Thanks for the kind comments and the encouragement. This is the first time for me that drawing has taken center stage in terms of capturing something like this. I was just thinking this morning that, in a way, it is like travel journaling, where I draw to capture fleeting scenes of the places I'm visiting. This is just a good reminder about how life is, in its whole, a sort of traveling, and it is all fleeting. Best wishes!

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