Perhaps it’s too easy. There are endless books, YouTube films, DVD’s and online courses about art; some are really helpful, others not at all. The temptation is to read or watch the demonstrations and step-by-steps and not actually DO them. There’s no-one there to guide us by saying ‘just look again at that shape, that curve, that form’.
We try to be our own tutor and our own student too, and it can be hard inspiring ourselves and keeping ourselves going. It's difficult to even notice your own mistakes and shortcomings, let alone what to DO about them! Bit like life, really......
I will be forever grateful for my own college tutors and for every artist I have had the pleasure of working with. I think it’s always a good idea to join a group and/or take classes or workshops to keep you inspired and moving forward. There's nothing wrong at all with being 'self taught', but we all learn and grow by looking at other artist's work that we admire, and learning from their experience and knowledge.
Creativity and inspiration are like lighting candles – once you have lit your own you can spread the light far and wide by lighting others. If you keep it to yourself you’ll have no-one to relight your flame if you lose your way!
Here's to a CREATIVE 2015!
The Veg Box selling genuine organic produce will be open too, plus a new chic little cafe in the grounds.
23 euro for a one-off session, 20 euros if you book for more than one.
Please contact me to book
Saturday Morning Art Club starts this weekend too - on the
27th September at 10 am til 12.30 pm. We will continue to concentrate on good drawing skills, but also work with colour this autumn. I like to mix media and explore new ways of making pictures, so expect some fun!
Classes are held in my studio in ManikataSingle classes are 20 euro or 5 classes (to be taken before December 13th) 85 euro
Again, please contact me to book
I also have a lot of exciting projects in the pipeline - one will be in Sliema and open to children 14 -16, helping them to draw figures in motion. The last class will be at the rehearsals of a Flamenco performance and their pictures will be exhibited in the foyer of the theatre afterwards. More details soon!
I would like to run this course for adults later but I need to find a suitable venue first.
I am planning art classes at a venue in Sliema too, which many people have asked me about. It seems that Manikata is 'too far' for some :-) So I will come to you......
Again, more details coming soon, but please let me know if you are interested, and whether evening or daytime classes are what you are looking for. I will start by running my popular course of basic drawing and watercolour techniques, which helps everyone to start seeing differently and to begin or continue their Art adventure with added confidence and joy. I will add other courses later.
I find that it is always beneficial to work in a group as well as practice on your own. It's always good to see how other people tackle the same or similar subjects. Creativity grows and expands by sharing ideas and inspiration. Always working alone can be stifling and our work may become dull and repetetive.The more candles we light from our own flame the brighter the whole world becomes!
I am really looking forward to cooler weather and to meeting you at my autumn classes.
Somewhere along the line though, we decided that we just weren’t able to make things look 'real' enough. We copied the symbols of houses and people that we were shown, but they still didn’t look right. Maybe someone laughed at our purple lemon, or our six legged horse. We were told to make grass green and skies blue. Little by little we lost our innocent creativity in an attempt to what? Please other people?
Many children then give up, and the precious gift of creative self expression slips away. Some love their art classes at school, and do well in their exams, but when Real Life kicks in, who has time to practice drawing or painting? Years later, when circumstances change, and they have some time for themselves, many decide to take up art again. It's a shame to lose contact with that playful love of making pictures, but luckily it's really never too late to rediscover it.
I really love teaching adults – it’s such a great feeling to help someone realise that actually they can draw much better than they ever thought they could, just by being shown a few simple ‘tricks’. My previous Blogs (see archives!) have given you every single one of those ‘tricks’. I wonder if you have tried any? They really do work. All we need to do is see the world as it really is instead of how we think it is. And then draw a line around the shapes. It only takes one basic drawing class to get that ‘Ah-ha!’ feeling. Of course, it then takes practice. Anything worthwhile takes practice.
Artists have used endless tricks and tools to help them capture the image they were after, from lightboxes and lenses, grids and viewfinders, cameras, computers and more recently Photoshop. Many people use photographs as a convenient basis for their paintings. It obviously seems easier to sit and copy a static scene instead of battling the various problems of perspective, three dimensional space, colour, changing light and moving subjects.
A word of caution though; cameras only have one ‘eye’ and can madly distort images, especially when zoom lenses are used. We find it hard to believe that photographs can lie to us so badly, and we don’t even notice the crazy distortions on many photos of moving people. Yet people faithfully copy, even trace, photos of dancers or sportspeople and can’t work out why the figures look so odd.
It seems like a simple solution, but it can be a very deceptive one. The single lens of the camera squashes perspective onto one plane, especially if the figure is moving. This distorts and flattens everything, so that a closer object becomes smaller and a more distant one becomes bigger. As an example look at this photo..
Using a photo is different from letting a photo use you. A slavish copy of a flat image is exactly that; it takes human aliveness and consciousness to turn it into a work of art. Photographs can be useful aids but we have to be aware of their distortions or we will just copy them blindly. As artists, we have to infuse our work with all our skills of interpretation and insight to give it the kiss of life.
I do use photographs sometimes. I take photos when there isn't time to paint, and occasionally I capture something that looks like an interesting starting point. For example.....
“Machines can do many things better than people, but beauty created by a combination of hand, eye, personality and material is something we shall always need. In fact, there is a sense of presence which can only be created by an artist or craftsman” Martin Gayford
I am starting my classes again after the long hot summer!
On Friday 19th September mornings I will be returning to the lovely gardens of Villa Bologna to resume the outdoor classes there.
From 20th September the Saturday Morning Drawing Club will get underway again in my studio in Manikata.
For more details please click HERE and contact me if you need any more information at all.
I will also be teaching an exciting six week course for teenagers 12 - 14 beginning in October in Sliema. I'll be showing them how to draw from real people, helping them to sketch quickly and for the last class we'll be working at the rehearsals of a Flamenco performance.
Looking forward to seeing you soon!!
I wonder if perhaps because mark-making is such a primal human urge we expect drawing to be ‘easy’ somehow; that it should not demand practice or hard work. Most people really wish that they could draw, but are convinced that they are not ‘gifted’ because they were probably told as children that their attempts at drawing were not good enough (good enough for WHAT? They are expressions, not competitions). Children who find drawing easy seem to be those who naturally see abstract shapes and how they fit together in space. It is more a gift of perception or observation than of drawing, really.
“Drawing will make you a better person – not morally, necessarily, but it makes you think. It will help you see the hidden patterns all around you, and make you a discriminating lover of landscapes, faces and mundane objects. It becomes an education, which changes your brain as much as learning to play the piano or to dance. It is about striving to become more fully human” Andrew Marr in ‘A Short Book About Drawing’
You can use the practice of drawing as a form of productive meditation, time for yourself, an interesting way of looking at the world differently and an absorbing search for lines and shapes to describe what you see. It can also be a new way of connecting to your surroundings, helping you to see things that you had never noticed before. The end result is less important than how much you learn, how much you see and how deeply you become absorbed. This alone can be the greatest source of joy, and as you continue the actual drawings will improve, with flashes of insight and leaps of ability.
I often think that the world would be a much more peaceful and pleasant place if only everyone was helped to draw to the best of their ability; we would all ‘see’, feel and experience life in a much less superficial way.
My exhibition opens on the 7th May and everything is ALMOST ready.... Last minute hiccups apart, it will be All Right On The Night. If you are able to, please come to the official launch on Wednesday evening (see details in my previous Blog below). Or pop in and see me one evening, as I will be there with the paintings almost every evening from 5 - 9.30pm. Contact me HERE if you want to make sure I'll be there.....
But now, back to Drawing!!
Many people are so hooked on the outcome of their drawings that they seem to stop themselves enjoying the actual practice of it. In normal ‘left-brained’ life this is usual; we don’t want to do things that seem to be wasting our time. But it is rather like expecting to run a marathon after the first week in the gym..... drawing well takes practice and discipline.
Tearing up and throwing away the ‘not good enough’ attempts in sheer frustration is understandable of course, but a shift in attitude is much more beneficial all round. By taking a more philosophical approach and keeping in mind that the journey is more important than the destination, much of the pressure can be released.
Ask yourself why you want to draw – it’s understandable that we want other people to look at our pictures and admire our efforts, but maybe we should ask why that is so important? I wonder if, because children’s drawings are so often treated with amusement and even criticism, we harbour a deep need for our work to be accepted and approved? Maybe, because our childish efforts at self-expression were so dismissed, we attach huge importance to our adult attempts and can be crushed by criticism all over again.
By loosening up your approach you will find that what are called ‘happy accidents’ – a surprise result that seems to happen all on its own – will be far more likely and really exciting when they do. We humans seem to learn much more from making mistakes than by repeating our small successes hoping to improve, so make BIG mistakes!! Make glorious, over-the-hill disasters and really learn what your materials and tools can or cannot do..... and what have you lost? A piece of paper! What have you gained? Experience, knowledge, an hour or two of absorbing fun, and a lot of ideas to use next time!
Your NEXT drawing is ALWAYS going to be better...... and the next one, and the next one......
I love to paint - and draw - and help others to discover their creative side too.....
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