Even If You Can’t Dance / Incluso Si No Puedes Bailar

La versión español está después de la versión inglés.

AS MANY OF you know, I majored in art and grew up wanting to be, simply, an artist. My Mother the Dowager Duchess, although proud of my talents, told me being an artist was not an acceptable career choice (unless, of course, I was the next Picasso, “… and we all know that will never happen” she said). I have a feeling my father would have supported my choice, but that’s water under the bridge. He even wanted me to get my master’s in fine arts, but I thought, “What’s the point?” I worked at times as a graphic artist, as an illustrator in Medical Illustration, and in publishing and publications design in many different capacities. For a while, I continued to carry a sketchbook wherever I went and was never shy about sketching in public even if people looked over my shoulder. But time passed, I built a career, and I rarely pulled out the sketchbook. Years later, when I tried, I was much too self-conscious. And my attempts at sketching in private frustrated me. “You can’t draw!” I would tell myself.

I’ve been talking for a while about getting back into drawing for my own pleasure. I did a sketch for a local (retired) gallery manager here and didn’t disappoint myself (click here). Finally, I’m back to it. And with each passing day, I’m happier. And I don’t care whether I think I can draw or not. I can draw if I want to.

I pulled out an old sketchbook to carry around, having no idea how old it actually was. I found the image above and the first two below within its pages. I remember sketching at our friend’s house on Cape Cod, Massachusetts around 1990. And I remember stopping after saying to myself, “You can’t draw!” and putting the book away. Since moving to Spain, I tried again in the same book — without even noticing there were other sketches there; I was dissatisfied, and I again put the book away. The final image is what I’m currently happily doodling. I’ve never thought I could dance either, but I don’t seem to care so much anymore.


COMO MUCHO DE vosotros ya sabráis, me especialicé en arte y crecí queriendo ser, simplemente, un artista.. Mi Madre La Duquesa Viuda aunque orgullosa de mi talento, me dijo que ser artista no era una opción de carrera aceptable (a menos que, por supuesto, yo fuera el próximo Picasso, “… y todos sabemos que eso nunca sucederá”, dijo. ). Tengo la sensación de que mi padre hubiera apoyado mi elección, pero eso es agua debajo del puente. Incluso quería que obtuviera mi maestría en bellas artes, pero pensé: “¿Cuál es el punto?” Trabajé a veces como artista gráfico, como ilustrador en ilustración médica, y en diseño de publicaciones en muchas capacidades diferentes. Por un tiempo, continué llevando un cuaderno de bocetos donde quisiera y nunca tuve miedo de dibujar en público, incluso si la gente miraba por encima de mi hombro. Pero el tiempo pasó, construí una carrera y rara vez saqué el cuaderno de bocetos. Años después, cuando lo intenté, yo era demasiado consciente de mí mismo. Y mis intentos de dibujar en privado me frustraron. “¡No puedes dibujar!”, me decía a mí mismo.

He estado hablando un rato mientras volvía a dibujar por mi propio placer. Hice un dibujo para un gerente (retirado) de galerías aquí y no me decepcioné (haz clic aquí). Así que, finalmente, estoy de vuelta a eso. Y con cada día que pasa, soy más feliz. Y no me importa si creo que puedo dibujar o no. Puedo dibujar si quiero!

Saqué un viejo cuaderno de bocetos para llevar, sin tener idea de la antigüedad que tenía. Encontré la imagen de arriba y las dos primeras debajo de sus páginas. Recuerdo dibujar en la casa de nuestro amigo en Cape Cod, Massachusetts, alrededor de 1990. …. Y recuerdo que me detuve después de decirme: “¡No puedes dibujar!” y de guardar el cuaderno. Desde que me mudé a España, lo intenté de nuevo en el mismo cuaderno, sin darme cuenta de que había otros bocetos allí; estaba insatisfecho y guardé el cuaderno otra vez. La imagen final es la que actualmente estoy felizmente garabateando. Nunca pensé que pudiera bailar tampoco, pero parece que ya no me importa mucho.

Unfinished: Maggie, our friend’s dog.
Inacabada: Maggie, la perra de nuestra amiga.
Unfinished: I tried again I think about 7 years ago and said, again, “You can’t draw!”
Inacabado: Lo intenté de nuevo, creo que hace unos 7 años y dije de nuevo: “¡No puedes dibujar!”
In progress: And, now, I can if I want to.
En progreso: Y, ahora, puedo si quiero.

Author: Moving with Mitchell

From Brooklyn, New York; to North Massapequa; back to Brooklyn; Brockport, New York; back to Brooklyn... To Boston, Massachusetts, where I met Jerry... To Marina del Rey, California; Washington, DC; New Haven and Guilford, Connecticut; San Diego, San Francisco, Palm Springs, and Santa Barbara, California; Las Vegas, Nevada; Irvine, California; Sevilla, Spain. And Fuengirola, Málaga..

48 thoughts on “Even If You Can’t Dance / Incluso Si No Puedes Bailar”

  1. Draw for the pure joy of it. What a good way to get out those feelings we all have inside ourselves. I look at it like doing a yoga class or taking a long walk.

  2. Oh My, you are very good. Creating for your own pleasure, is very fulfilling. I can’t draw, but I need to go back to painting.

    1. David:
      I never much got into painting. My mother, however, loved it — oils and watercolors.

  3. Your life story, this particular part, has hit a strong chord with me Mitch. Long story short, I too enrolled at the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design NSCAD in 1978 thinking this was my world and with absolutely no confidence backed out. I did however manage an art and drafting supply store for 10 year just to be close to any kind of art and artists. I, now being retired, have surrounded myself in all kinds of art related topics, books, blogs, library visits etc. It has been the best part of my sojourn in life. You have so much to offer Mitch. I sensed that a few years ago when our paths crossed. Doing this by yourself is difficult but with Jim’s help in my case I am feeling more confident. Teach us Mitch teach us your sketching techniques etc.
    Love Ron

      1. Teach one of us blogger friends…..just ideas, techniques, choices etc……that’s what I mean I guess….I am always open to ideas from the talented!

      2. Ron,
        You are way too kind… and extraordinarily talented.

  4. Your art is such a pleasure to look at, Mitchell. I just love it.

    I missed wishing Moose and Dudo happy Gotcha Day! I’m glad they waited for you, so we could all enjoy them now, too 🙂

    1. Judy:
      Oh, the boys’ gotcha day is still to come in May, so they’ll forgive you for missing their litter day (?). And thanks so much for the kind words. I’m enjoying drawing again.

  5. Dear Mitch,

    In my Old Lady spare time I have taken up quilting. One thing I really like about it is the artistry challenge- color combination, patterns in fabric, line, negative space, etc. – not just the craftsmanship. And you know what I think about when getting ready to start a quilt – you! I remember you coming back to the dorms with an assignment from your art class like sketch something but don’t lift your pencil from the paper or make the design bleed off the page. Keep going buddy. The only failure is not trying.

    1. Cheech! That first assignment… to sketch something without lifting the pencil was a revelation. Do you happen to remember the sketch I had to do without lifting the pencil AND with my eyes closed? We had to stare at a stuffed pheasant and memorize what we kid. It was my first day of class freshman year. The art teacher actually brought in another prof to see what I had done. I wish I still had it. I was amazed when I opened my eyes. As for quilting, the artistry is phenomenal. I’ve actually wondered what some of my designs would look like quilted but I don’t have the patience… or any of the skills required, for that matter. Always good to see a note from you!

  6. It wasn’t my only dream or ambition, but there’s many times in my life where I badly wanted to be a cartoonist (Charles M. Schulz was a childhood hero of mine), and I thought I could get there WITHOUT having to learn to draw since comic strips, the humorous ones anyway, aren’t realistically drawn. Then one day I read a memoir by Schulz which showed some of his non-Peanuts art, and was surprised to find out that the man could draw like Norman Rockwell if he wanted to! Oh, well. Anyway, you’re a much better artist than I, weather it’s realism or abstract (cartoony?) stuff.

    1. Kirk:
      Not all cartoonists are actually good fine artists, although you can recognize the ones who are (like Schulz). One of my childhood fantasies was also to be a cartoonist, so i used to create my own. Don’t know what ever happened to them. My mother used to save everything but they were nowhere to be found when we emptied her apartment.

    1. Kirk:
      I know your writing well enough by now to know a typo when I see one!

  7. YES!!! I’m so happy to read this post, Mitchell. This is exactly what retirement is meant for — exploring our expressive talents that were set aside (of necessity) during our working lives. I’m trying to do that too and loving it! Your sketches are great — my favourite is the little sleeping dog. And those beach babes! You’ll never run out of inspiration where you live now, lol!

    1. Debra:
      I stopped before I even really got going with the dog drawing because I remember thinking it was awful. Looking at it now, I don’t really know why i was so disgusted. I especially love drawing people… and photographing people.

  8. My God, Mitchell! Are you insane? These are wonderful. Especially the top two. I would take the second one and make it into a note card or a print. We are all our own worst critics, unfortunately. Me included.

    1. TTPTrash:
      I don’t know about wonderful (thanks), but they’re not so awful that I should have stopped all those years ago. And, yes, we are own worst critics… except for my mother.

      1. I get that. Whenever I would do something like a drawing or a watercolor, my mother would say “That’s nice. But why don’t you do an oil painting?” I know I’ve internalized that criticism and it’s hard to get rid of.

  9. Hold my toaster, Tony Dancer (sorry, Elton) ! Not only can you draw, but you can draw hands! I wish I could draw the way you can’t. I have an artist in my head, she just doesn’t translate into my hands. I can draw a turkey, though. I learned in kindergarten. So it looks like a hand print with a turkey wiggle thing on the thumb. Big deal. Don’t let anybody put you down over your artistic bent, that includes you! Don’t make me come over there with a rolled up newspaper, Scoot! It won’t be pretty!

      1. Sorry, to hijack Mitchell, but you already know that I think you have mad skillz!

    1. Deedles:
      You make me smile (and laugh out loud). However, i always thought it was Hold me closer, Tony Danza, which I found to be a nauseating idea. I’m actually very good with hands; this is not one of my better ones, although I was proud of the band aids! I would love to meet you here with a rolled up newspaper (or without). — Scoot

      1. Yeah, that Tony Danza thing is quite puke inducing. I prefer my take on it. Any time I can make you smile, or laugh, is always a good thing.

  10. FABU! I can’t even draw a line with a ruler. you DO have talent! and tell the voices in your head to STFU!

    1. anne marie:
      I do at times say that to those voices in my head. Especially recently. Hallelujah.

  11. Well I have a painting in my living room of an ass that begs to differ! You can draw and I’m glad you’re at an age where you just don’t care! I would love for Luke to see you sketching. God knows his mama does not have that particular skill!

      1. Susan:
        Just something from the recesses of my mind.

      2. Deedles:
        No, it’s a painting of someone’s hind quarters. No one in particular. The first time Kathleen had “activity night,” we were all given oil paints; that’s what I came up with.

    1. Kathleen:
      Well, you have two paintings of asses. It’s a veritable collection. I’ll have to start carrying the sketchbook everywhere — even when we visit you. That would be fun to sit with Luke and do — his book and mine.

  12. If you like doing it, and you like what you do, and it gives even a modicum of joy, then I say you CAN draw, and you should.

    1. Bob:
      That’s exactly how I’m feeling right now. Now I just have to work up the courage to be able to sketch wherever I am without worrying about people looking.

    1. Janie:
      Thanks! I am enjoying it. I used to share with my mother and she would then usually ask if I could sell it and make any money. None of those questions anymore!

  13. I work in a Museum Art Gallery and I see a lot of art daily, don’t always like what I see, not all art inspires. But in your case
    you do have talent I say this based on the draping of the pillow on the chair, the chair fabric and the book open on the cover all of it looks soft and comfortable, it is difficult to achieve this degree of sophistication in drawing to make it look so realistic. You have the touch.

    1. larrymuffin:
      Thanks! And I still can’t stand that particular sketch.

      1. Larry,unfiltered ,
        Thanks. I’m not really. Just a little obsessive compulsive. I was always good at drawing fabrics and this was not one of my better efforts.

  14. You’ve got to sing like you don’t need the money,
    You’ve got to love like you’ll never get hurt,
    You’ve got to dance like there’s nobody watching,
    You’ve got to come from the heart if you want it to work.

    In my view you are creating from the heart (a passion) and it is definitely working.

    1. Willym,
      I love your lead-in! I’m enjoying myself again. Still working up the courage to sketch in public.

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