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Everything Old Is Young Again

March 10, 2012

A sketch of a sketch from Jack Hamm's book, How to Draw the Figure.
© 2012, Dana Aubrey

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Today is a very big day for yours truly. Imagine earning the Nobel Peace Prize, ending world hunger, or becoming the first female President. Then swing your mind 180˚ and that’s where you’ll find me – celebrating a lesser, more self-indulgent accomplishment. But I did it nonetheless – and a day with a goal realized is a day worth celebrating. Happy 365 days Drawing Pins! PHEW! How many days I wanted to quit you, how many days I felt humiliated through you, and how many days I was pleasantly surprised by you?! As long as I didn’t quit you until I hit my target; 365 days or 365 posts (pfft…365 posts…as if! This is only #80). If the amount of calories I’ve burned blogging could be transferred into some kind of ‘get fit’ program, I’d be revealing a core as strong as an I-beam right now.

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365
The amount of days I’ve been blogging.

1916
The year Jack Hamm, the American cartoonist, was born.

 1940
The era of style depicted in the sketch.

1963
The year Jack Hamm’s How to Draw the Figure was first published.

1989
The year I added his book to my library – a recommended course book from school.

2012
The year I read Jack Hamm’s Preface in How to Draw the Figure, for the very first time.

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Maybe I wasn’t ready to absorb Hamm’s preface message until now, who knows, but I’m glad I finally did. It’s a vintage viewpoint inside a timeless sentiment, about the virtue of knowing how to draw the figure. In present day we find ourselves tipping our hat to the tradesman, maybe truly appreciating blue collar work for the first time(?), the DIY movement has been resurrected, and New Urbanism is old Urbanism in disguise. Everything old is young again – including my love for drawing.

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The following is some of Jack Hamm’s philosophy, as imparted in the preface of How to Draw the Figure:

A photo of Jack Hamm's original sketch in his book, How to Draw the Figure.

“Whereas an instrument like the compass or ruler may be used briefly as a device, it should always be subservient to the freehand line.”

 “Every noble work is at the first impossible.” 

“Long before a child learns to write, he makes marks which in his uninhibited imagination represent a person. No one has convinced him that he has no artistic ability, nor has he convinced himself, so he continues his affected effort to draw. Because he persists, oftentimes to the undoing of household furniture, walls – and parents – his drawings begin to show a decided measure of improvement. Then one day interest wanes, due to acquired restraints, and only a few after that regularly take up the drawing pencil. The others borrow the oft-repeated phrase, “Oh, I can’t draw a straight line!” The plain truth is that, since we are not machines, no one can.”

Jack Hamm, How to Draw the Figure.

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