There’s only one you, only one me. You can’t really copy me, and I can’t copy you either, but together we can move forward by inspiring and supporting each other. We can’t really be in competition with each other if we are both following our hearts. That goes against most business models of course, but creativity can’t be contained or restricted, otherwise it withers and dies.
Copied ideas don’t have the original inspiration or fire behind them, and although art forgers can make big bucks, most people make art because it gives them pleasure and a sense of personal achievement. Essentially we are all unique even if we ‘borrow’ every now and then. When you translate someone else’s idea through your own talents and processes, it becomes your own. That’s different to copying.
For this reason I am happy to share everything I have ever learnt or discovered. All the years that I have spent teaching and encouraging others to discover the joys of drawing have probably helped me as much as my students. Trying to describe the process of drawing in words has clarified and distilled it for me. It has also shown me the simplest ways to teach drawing to anyone who wants to learn.
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 only way I can paint or draw really quickly and accurately at live events is to have complete confidence in my knowledge of the human form and how it moves. My years of studying in life classes have given me a solid feeling for anatomy and a connection to the way we humans fill space. I love working with models, male and female. Human beings are all beautiful, miraculous and unique. It’s a privilege to be able to spend time studying someone’s unique body shape and simply be allowed to stare at them without embarrassment or misinterpretation.
For the last year or so I have been working on a collection of drawings and paintings called ‘Fifty Shades of Grey Nudes’. To see the works so far please visit my Fifty Shades of Grey Nudes site. Here are some of the latest works, which have not been added to the website yet. I would like to exhibit them to coincide with the premier of the film in Malta, but we’ll see what happens.
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.
I love to draw with paint at live events, dance and music performances. I usually use acrylic paint on dark backgrounds at night time events. Sometimes I will use pastels or ink.
It takes a huge amount of focus and energy, but the buzz I get from it is, I have realised, addictive.
Looking through my old sketchbooks the other day I found pages and pages of tiny moving figures, and I remembered doing them over 40 years ago. I was working on a college project at the time which featured clowns in strange positions. I had to draw them without models because the poses were impossible, but I wanted the contortions to look as realistic as I could. I had the brainwave of drawing footballers on the TV. This proved to be a fantastic training for drawing moving figures . I learned to capture a mental snapshot and then draw as quickly as possible before the image faded..
I have filled the pages of many books with quick sketches of people ever since.
People usually spend much more time looking at their pencil/pen than the subject. In effect they are always drawing from memory. They get so fascinated with their hand drawing they forget to look properly at the subject at all. One of the exercises I give to my students is to use ‘blind contour drawing’. They have to cover their hand so that they can’t see what it is doing, and draw a three dimensional subject as carefully as they can. At first this feels unbearable, and seems impossible. Even the crazy abstract lines that happen at first have a strange beauty about them though. They are lines of pure seeing – total connection between the eye and hand. The brain can’t interfere and process anything. This is what we are ultimately aiming for in our drawings- pure honest lines that describe what we are seeing.
All artists are 'self taught' to a certain extent. No matter what training they may have had, progress is only made through constant study and practice.
There are arguments for and against a formal training in art. Some say that it can stunt the individual expression of the budding artist. Many never progress beyond the boundaries of technique and the safety of general approval. Others say that having a good grounding in basic skills can only help an artist to grow in any desired direction.
It can be difficult to break free from the do’s and don’ts, with or without a formal education. I studied Illustration for three years at college. The standard of drawing we were expected to produce was extremely high. I had always had a gift, so I really enjoyed honing my skills. When I left college I knew that I could realistically represent any subject. I didn’t want to be an illustrator though.
Years later, when my children were at school and I had time to myself, I found it very hard to draw with my previous confidence. I also wanted to express myself more, but had no idea how to do that. I began a journey of discovery, learning to use watercolour and acrylics and then moving into three- dimensional works as well.
In the prehistoric temples, for example, I often record every tiny hole, groove and mark in the stone very precisely. I may then do several black and white tonal studies, recording light and shadows. From there I will go on to watercolour, still working on site. I absorb feelings, impressions and anything else which seems relevant
From this I am sometimes led to semi or purely abstract works, occasionally going into 3 dimensional works in mixed media.
I know that my solid grounding in drawing gives me a basis to work from and a confidence in my approach. I have been teaching drawing skills and watercolour techniques in Malta for years now. I find that giving people enough basic knowledge and encouragement helps them to discover their own unique talent. I think those who approach art through abstraction and trying to ‘express themselves’ are impoverished as far as their potential is concerned. They often give up in frustration and follow another creative path. This is a shame, as learning to ‘see’ by learning how to draw can enrich all creativity on every level. Being able to capture reality accurately gives us a basis to extract from, and also a mine of information to expand on and explore.
I love to paint - and draw - and help others to discover their creative side too.....
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