Age 16 I was sitting trying to paint a lovely rock I’d found on the beach. It was a really unusual rock in the shape of a tear drop with purple and grey colouring and a bump on the top where (I imagined) a shell had made its home once before. I’d never painted still life before. As I sat there pondering how to create a picture that showed the true beauty of my new treasure a well-meaning person wandered by and asked what I was up to. When I said I was trying to draw and then paint the rock, the person commented that if I was going to ‘be able to draw’ then I would have discovered that skill already. Oh, I thought. What a shame. I put down my brush and that was the end of me trying to paint or draw for the next 20 years!
Then in September last year I came across a group of artists who didn’t seem to believe that the ability to draw and paint are given to the fortunate few at birth. A group of people who see making art as much about the learning process as about the finished piece. Who try new techniques and share their successes AND their failings as a way of encouraging others to grow too. And they welcomed me as a fellow artist. Me! Who had not been blessed with the ability to draw or paint, but was sort of ok with a sewing machine or a needle. In fact, they resisted all my attempts to explain that I’m not an artist, that I can’t draw, that I’m just playing at making art for fun. Apparently, this is what an artist does! And it’s a lifelong process of making progress. There are no barriers to what I can learn to do. A couple of artists in the group were especially encouraging so I’m going to try to write about them over the next few posts.
Ruth Hinman is a mixed media artist in Montana. She keeps several daily art journals, writes at least 3 blogs, supports artists through the Artist Trading Card group on Facebook and somehow manages to fit in working a real job, managing her home, a functional relationship with “honey” and an online gaming presence, too. She refuses to accept that there are not enough hours in the day to do everything that she wants to do. Her energy is an inspiration and her art work is just to die for. I find myself thinking, “I wish I thought of that!” with almost everything she creates. I like that she will share work that she made that she doesn’t necessarily love. And will regularly explain a technique she used that didn’t go quite the way she thought it would. She also vents really well! I found this rant on art and art journalling particularly liberating. I’m going to ask her to do a guest blog over here at Moon Munkie … but she’s starting a new job at the moment so that may need to wait a while.
So as a result of all of this positive input, I’ve really been working hard to improve my drawing / painting skills. I’ve started to keep an art journal myself and I’m also running some workshops locally to encourage others to do the same. My skills are coming along nicely. (If you’ve not read ‘Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain‘ by Betty Edwards and you think you can’t draw, then get a copy immediately. It’s incredible how fast I improved once I learned to look and see properly.) There are still loads of things I want to learn: shadows, perspective, colour, blending, shading, proportion, composition … everything, really! But the big change is that I know that with practice it will come.
I’m so glad I kept that rock.