Sometimes an image just sticks in your imagination.

I was going through an online website set up to help you practice your figurative drawing and sketching skills. You enter a number of parameters for the images you want to sketch from (eg, male/female, clothed/nude, static/action, etc.) and a number of minutes for a timer. When you hit the [Start] button, the site brings up an image and a countdown. The image stays up for your chosen number of minutes, and then switches to the next randomly selected image from the pool. The intent is to push you to draw quickly, capturing the gesture rather than fussing with details.

I was scanning through the poses for ideas, and this particular image came up of a woman, seated on the ground, one leg up and the other extended, with her hands on the ground in front of her. What really caught me was the look in her eyes. I stopped, got out my sketchpad and began drawing. It was a pretty quick gesture drawing, without a lot of detail and only a hint of light and shadow, but it caught my imagination.

A couple of days later, I was in some video meeting, and just a little bored. I grabbed some scrap paper and started doodling while I was listening. What I quickly discovered was that my “random” doodles very quickly went back to the same image I had been drawing a couple of days earlier. I didn’t remember all the details, but since I had done the drawing once, the fundamental gesture of the figure was stuck in my head. I proceeded to complete the drawing, and over the next couple of days, continued to refine the details.

What particularly caught my attention in this instance of the drawing was the expression on her face. Her eyes are penetrating and intense. She’s not angry, but her eyes tell me she is looking back with just a hint of uncertainty. She is pensive, but there is a strength in her character, in spite of the vulnerability of her nudity. She is nobody’s fool.


I continued to work with this image in my imagination, creating a small sculpture to embody the spirit of this woman in clay.

Something this sculpt captured well was the fierce look in her eyes. My first thought for a title was “Contemplation”. However, as I sat with her, what I began to see in her eyes was courage. That’s the name she has given herself.

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