Some Final Musings on The Year

Today marks not only the end of the year, but the fulfillment of one of my new year’s resolutions. I committed to draw a sketch every day, scanning each one and posting it to my blog. I didn’t expect this endeavor to be so enjoyable and sometimes quite challenging. I started with no specific plan, or theme, or particular goal; I only had two rules: draw something every day and try different media. This activity became something of a solace to me, even something I looked forward to completing [even when weary from travel or teaching].

In many ways, 2011 was not a kind year. My father sustained a broken leg in January, resulting in several months of rehabilitation. My sister had thyroid cancer. Three of my art students were in a serious auto accident and one is still facing paralysis as “the new normal”. With the harsh aftermath of earthquakes, hurricanes, flooding, tornados, and joblessness there was much to worry about in this fractured world. I drew pictures on nights punctuated by loneliness and some days of deep depression. I carried my sketchbooks to coffeehouses, bookstores, and library carrels, scribbling lines on blank pages as moments ticked by. I traveled across the country to San Francisco, sketching on the plane and in outdoor courtyards. Upgrading to a new smartphone enabled me the means of capturing sketches with the camera and uploading them straight to my blog when I was away from a scanner. I drew while my students took exams and while watching TV. Listening to NPR and chatting on the phone. When the trees lifted their bare arms to a gray, frosty sky and through the full-on, oppressive heat of summer.

I sketched my way out of the doldrums and gained confidence when the first of four sketchbooks won second place in the “Pulp: Works on Paper” show in Raleigh during the summer. Hundreds of hands flipped through the pages of that volume during its month on display at Visual Arts Exchange. The year’s collection is eclectic, but‑-not surprisingly–the lion’s share of subjects I drew was people. I have always been fascinated with the human face and all of its infinite permutations of attitude and emotion.

Here, then, are the year-end statistics, by category…

People 274
Tools & Gadgets 17
Architecture (building and interior spaces) 14
Automotive (cars, trucks, motorcycles, tractors) 10
Animals 13
Toys 10
Self Portraits 10
Birds 10
Advertising Icons 8
Antiques 8
Instruments (gauges, measuring tools, etc.) 7
Food 7
Signage and Landmarks 5
Shoes 5
Clocks & Watches 5
Logos & Icons 5
Kitchen Items 5
Package Design 5
Flowers 5
Health & Beauty Products 4
“Non-Human Figures (mannequins, puppets, etc.)” 3
Insects 3
Natural Objects 2
Musical Instruments 2
Flags 1
Furniture 1



So, in the end, I have sketched more than 365 things this year. But I must close by recalling a few memories that made the year much sweeter than any thing I could attempt to capture in line and tone on paper:

  • A friend who drove 3 hours to have dinner with me during spring break, mainly to share a listening ear and a copy of Rilke’s Letters to a Young Poet;
  • Seeing my Mom singing in her church choir on Christmas morning, despite her visual limitations due to macular degeneration;
  • Watching my Dad stand –minus the cane or crutches- holding the communion cup on Christmas Eve as a deacon in his church;
  • Listening to my big sister signing in full voice to “From a Distance” on a road trip, after previously weakened vocal chords from thyroid surgery.

Finally, I’m glad to have met my goal and completed a sketch a day. Here’s hoping for continued creative output in 2012. Thanks for following, and especially for the encouraging posts and emails, and may all of God’s best and brightest be yours in the new year.

~ Steve


6 thoughts on “Some Final Musings on The Year

  1. Congratulations on the year of sketches. You really should be proud of yourself, first for the dedication and consistency, but also for the reception your work has received. Great work this year!

  2. It is important for teachers to stay engaged in the process. You invented a great way to do it. Now the trick is to find a way to make money off of all that art!

  3. Congratulations Stephen! This is quite an accomplishment. It’s a motivation to me to do something (practice, compose, pray…the list could go on) consistently for an entire year.

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