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!!
There is yet another use for your pencil that I haven’t mentioned yet; measuring. That’s the OTHER thing that artists are doing when they hold a pencil out and squint past it. It’s yet another useful and simple skill that makes all the difference to your drawings and also helps to override your left brain.......
Find two identical things – cups perhaps. Put them on a table in front of you with one about 20 cms further away from you than the other. It’s easier if they are directly on your eyeline, so maybe sit down to do this exercise. Hold up your pencil at arm’s length in front of you and close one eye. Hold the top of the pencil so that, in space, it is in line with the top of the nearest cup. Slide your thumb so that it is in line with the bottom of the cup. You now have a measurement of the cup. Move your pencil and compare this with the second cup. It is probably half the size!
This is quite a revelation to your left brain, which knows that the cups are the same size, and will refuse to ‘see’ that one now appears smaller. Unless you prove it wrong, you will tend to draw the cups the same size.
You can either stick to the exact same size, making marks on your paper and joining them dot-to-dot, ( called ‘sight-size’) or you can reduce or increase the first mark you make on your paper and then keep everything to the same ratio. So a cup may be half as wide as its height, no matter how big or small you draw it.
The more you practise measuring the less you actually have to do it; in time you will begin to make accurate calculations, and your left brain will leave you alone to go and do what it does best - writing lists and planning what to have for dinner!
This can get a little tricky, holding things still, squinting and then transferring the angle to your paper without your sneaky left brain jumping in to distort everything, so I give my students a ‘gadget’ to help.....
You hold the longer edge either horizontally or vertically, which corresponds to your paper’s edges, and then move the shorter arm until it matches the angle you want to draw. Hoorah!
This doesn’t look quite as mystical and professional as squinting and waving your pencil around of course, but it works!
After practising with the pencil, viewfinder and the gadget for some time, you will find that you can estimate perspective lines quite accurately and just use these techniques as back up. Perspective is an optical illusion; we really don’t need to go into the mechanical workings of why and how it works. It is much simpler to just draw what we see in front of us, exactly as it appears to be. Don’t process it, don’t ask questions, don’t say ‘well it CAN’T look like that!’ – it does, so draw it!!
I will be Artist in Residence at Villa Bologna for the month of April, plus my First Friday Gallery on the 4th April - and I am also preparing for an exhibition of paintings in Mellieha in May. I’m taking names for the Saturday Morning Drawing Club too, which starts on the 5th April....... phew!
Contact me !
I love to paint - and draw - and help others to discover their creative side too.....
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