At the start of October 2014, I thought I had everything worked out. I was leaving a job to go into a new field and had with the finance help of my family a chance to a Degree in something I loved Art, to go on to do an MA and be an Art Therapist – my dream job.
I had a set plan, I was overjoyed that my life had some direction to it, it was ambitious and exciting.
At the start I enjoyed it, I was mark making, drawing things around me and using my sketchbook to record my learnings. It stayed this way for some time, then things got harder. It hit me that degree level probably wasn’t the best way for a non drawing skilled person to start. Instead of an exercise taking 15 minutes to complete it would take more like 40 minutes to an hour.
I felt the hardest hit (which turned out to be a blessing) when my tutor suggested I do the course for personal development only. I hit the roof, and cried. I felt devastated. The Mr assisted in picking me up and with his help I re worked three assignments in two weeks, read the best drawing books out there and could actually see an noticeable difference in my drawing skills!
However, on completing my third assignment a townscape, and realising I was still unhappy with it, I decided my option was to re work it and go through hours of drawing hell again (I wanted to scream, shout and cry at the very idea) I thought about doing drawing for personal development.
As I thought about drawing for personal development, learning all I can and completing the course with no follow up or recognition at the end, I felt a mix of lightness, sureness and an intuitive guided yes.
I announced it to the Mr (who was my rock at every drawing hurdle and wanted me to learn and love what I do rather than it be a miserable experience) he was very supportive. Other people close to me were not so supportive and I understood that too. I had after all just said goodbye to a big dream of mine that I had been talking about for years! Eventually, everyone came round to the idea and as it was all paid for and up to me to complete it, the decision was entirely mine.
Drawing, what it allowed me to do:
Through drawing I came across the free and controlled approach, these two modes can be referred to as intuitive and analytical too. Intuitive mode (free) allows for quick, sketchy, impulsive, loose, connected lines. Analytical (controlled) is precise, careful and deliberate. I am good at free intuitive movements and less on controlled almost perfect drawing. For anyone putting these two styles together doesn’t work. You can become frozen from constant analysis and block a loose attitude for intuition. The trick is to become disciplined at keeping them apart and to use them alternatively at appropriate times.
I tried different mediums, my favourites were – dip pens and markers, mixed media and drawing on coloured paper.
I explored different terms and themes, through I wasn’t the best at producing them, I’m grateful to have learnt drawing basics and fundamentals. A list may be of help to people want somewhere to start in learning to draw:
– Golden mean
– Shadow and light
– Positive and negative space
– Fine detail
– Line and wash
I got inspiration from things outside myself, in my usual art practices I tended to go ‘inside’ of myself in my own bubble to create. While drawing I could focus on a subject, research about it and then draw. I did this with a picture of a Hummingbird and learnt interesting facts and specifics about their anatomy. I also drew outside literally, when my course required me to take a sketch book walk, draw nature and the town.
I got further inspiration from going to galleries, something I’ve done for a while but this time I did it and will continue to do it at a deeper level. Make notes in sketch book while in the gallery, drawing a representation of art on the walls and taking my time around the place, making it more of an experience. During my course I visited the Saatchi and Royal Academy in London for the first time.
Drawing allowed me to draw things I would never do, such as items of clothing, shoes, my bathroom. I learnt to draw quickly and get as much down as I could when drawing my cats, moving people and models as they are unpredictable and time limited. I drew clouds for the first time with pastels and trees close up as well as learning all about facial features positioning and body parts.
How drawing was a lesson in confidence building and better habits:
It gave me a reason to get out more, to own my spot as an artist on the go by getting out into nature and drawing, I also enjoyed a hot Summer.
It gave me a sense of personal freedom when drawing in cafes and in town. I learnt not to be distracted by the glances of other people and to just draw! Each to there own after all.
I had better discipline to learn and do more, I created a sketchbook just for my own learnings and set aside time to learn and develop my skills with books, youtube and blogs.
I went to life drawing class for the first time- actually I went to two and got two very different experiences from them. The first was one day a week for 4 weeks, this got me into a good practice of going to somewhere each week for a purpose, I showed up each time regardless of how I felt. This class was tutored, helpful for pointers of what I was/wasn’t doing right but quite strict and rigid, I felt out of place amongst many drawers who’s work was incredible.
The second run by Harriet who does life drawing classes in Maidenhead and events at South Hill Park. This was a one day drawing extravaganza – so much fun! Instead of just one male model to draw there was a range of females and males, nude and clothed, also a bunch of supplies to play with too! This kind of workshop is a great experience whatever art level your at and I think I will go to another in the future as I won’t have in the back of my mind that what I’m doing is for a course, it’ll be for me!
A big tip for creative people considering a course or degree:
Go small first! Try out a short course online, I studied with the OCA they have shorter course options as well as a degree. Learn how you work, develop your skills and interest and go from there. I can clearly see that rushing from depression-a degree was not a smart move. Slow down, there is enough time. Then go from there to something bigger.
Where do I go from here:
Well, it seems I am back to where I began, being a painter. I’ve come full circle! Though I have more confidence in my attitude and ability to create. I have grown immensely having learning to draw, to drive and develop my yoga practice all at the same time! I now have total permission to make the art I love and make my own tools and products.
The next short course stepping stone I am taking is a 5 day residential summer course hosted by the Champernowne Trust on Psychology and the Arts in a months time!