I’ve always loved art and drawing. Having the opportunity the past year to reacquaint myself with this beautiful past-time has been a blessing and cost a small fortune. The latter because my perfectionist and organised nature wants or perhaps needs to have the “right” equipment, and my rather ADD nature gets bored doing the one thing. So I have indulged in a variety of mediums in order to ‘find’ what I like best.
Pencils: watercolour, graphite, pastel, charcoal and artist. Watercolour and acrylic paints. Hard, soft and oil pastels. Watersoluble crayons. Inks, liquid acrylics, spray inks. The list goes on. I love the effect of art journalling, mixing colour and writing and drawing together. I love the fluidity of watercolours, of mixing ink and watercolour together. The simplicity of sketching and ink work. The intricacies of doodling and tangling.
Regular conversations with a friend who has also taken up art again, focusing on life drawing to the point of having an exhibition in his local town of Tamworth, provided immense support by quietly and bluntly pointing out issues with my art. Too much drawing from the left side of the brain, tap into the right side.
This intrigued me to find out what this means. I know I have a strong left brain. The logical, analytical side that works well with data. My passion for architecture and engineering. I was always good at tech drawing. But my right side is the creative brain, fluid, colourful, imaginative. I learnt to blend them both over my life time. In fact that is one of my strengths, the ability for gestalt or whole brain reasoning and processing. Blending the two. So now my challenge was to do this in art work.
I had always had a difficulty mastering shading. Tho I could manage perspectives I didn’t understand them. Of course my analytical brain that seeks to understand sought out numerous books on art and drawing via kindle, and a few in print. But I found I was still missing something. The basics I had forgotten.
I found a wonderful book, “You Can Draw in Thirty Days” by Mark Kistler. Going back to basics, but in a different way. Understanding that the masters learnt by copying, giving me permission to do this. Gone now is the mantra from school days of ‘just draw’ that had me fearing and stating that if you gave me a blank piece of paper I wouldn’t know where to start.
Understanding that drawing and art is a learning process, just as reading and writing are. That with basic and simple instructions anyone can learn to draw. Artists aren’t born, they learn, they persevere, over a life-time. I think of the disservice we do our children by not putting art in the same category as reading and writing and teaching them to draw, rather than giving them pencil and paper and telling them to just draw.
My exploration of art books showed me another vital piece of information. Art is learning to see. Art teaches us to open our eyes to the world around us. To see shape, shadow, light, form and flow. To see perspective and distance and colour. Nature is an incredible teacher when we open our eyes. So often we walk this world with blinkers on, not seeing the beauty and feeling the emotions of what surrounds us.
Photography brings some of this out, but art is the medium that teaches us to see and forces us to interact. Is it any wonder art therapy is such a productive field of bringing us back to ourselves. Art in itself is therapy. It quiets the mind, encourages us to focus, yet lets our imagination free to explore and create. In many ways it is meditative. It certainly soothes the soul of many I know who have rediscovered art.
For myself, I am thankful that I have always loved art, that my children embraced it, that I have rediscovered this beautiful field. Whether we do so from passion, therapy, as a hobby or beautiful time waster, art is in my mind a vital part of our lives, and one that is open to everyone, and given the right and simple instructions, can be undertaken by every one of us.