I went out drawing last week with daughters Pearl and Grace over by the railroad tracks that cross over on Fuller Ave about a mile north of our house. I am currently working on a painting project for Calvin College that relates to the Prodigal Son story. As part of the beginning process of making the painting I am going out and collecting information that may or may not end up feeding into the final work. Drawing outside the safety of the cozy studio always feels like the right thing to do even though it takes an certain amount of pluck and determination that I can't always muster. But when I do, good things happen.
Taking photos is another way artists gather source material for painting projects and it can be very helpful. Putting the camera away and sitting down with your humble little box of drawing tools and a piece of paper is something all together different and I would say more profound. Drawing is a slow and deep soaking in of information. It is like Jacob wrestling with the angel and coming away with both a limp and the blessing. It is both meditation and prayer and it changes you in the end making you more sensitive to the beauty and mystery all around us in the natural world.