So in continuing with my art lessons—One evening as we sat around drawing, our teacher asked us what our favorite new tool to draw with was? This alone has been an eye opening experience as, previous to this class, I always thought that there was only one tool—a pencil. My favorite has been vine charcoal, made from a burnt piece of grapevine, and “smooth as butter” as our teacher says. Others liked the pens and the compressed charcoal. When she asked the girl, who was drawing next to me, what her favorite medium was, without hesitating she replied, “the eraser.” I chuckled to myself; yes an eraser had become a very good friend to me too. Then Annie, our teacher, began to expound on how critical our eraser is to “letting in the light in our pictures.” I stopped and glanced at the landscape of the “eraser girl.” It was beautiful and she was drawing with her eraser! Annie then explained that the painter, Jan Vermeer, was famous for his works of light. He created his paintings by first putting down a layer of paint and then going back and removing the paint where he wanted the light to shine through. A quick question to the Google god reveals many examples of “subtractive” drawing where layers of charcoal are then removed with an eraser, letting the light shine through the drawings.
Driving home from the University of Utah that night in my “pondermobile,” I began to think of how important erasing is in other areas of my life. Just like my drawings which are total “works in progress” so is my life. There are few mistakes that cannot be erased, no lines that cannot be removed and even in the most dark times we can find ways to let the light shine through. Especially in my motherhood career, I wish that I had the opportunity for “do overs.” But, instead of wadding up “the paper” and starting again, we can get out our magic eraser and redraw the lines. As I have learned in class, the smudges add “richness, texture and layers” to our finished drawings. It is comforting to draw knowing that I can fix mistakes. It removes some of the fear. It is comforting to live knowing that a wad of love can be used to clean up the myriad blunders I make in the “art of being human.” As I continue to forge forward on the self- portrait called “ME,” I will erase, redraw, stand back, try again, and be satisfied if it still remains slightly off-balance.