Monday, January 2, 2017

Draw Every Day

Art has always been something for other people: I have never felt it was for me. I could always write, and I could work on my writing and get better at it, but art - I judged myself by my inability to draw or paint anything that looked like anything. However, colour, texture, shape all attracted my attention, and I loved doing art with my homeschooled sons and friends, and with my kids I never felt embarrassed by my inadequacies. I felt joyful when they did better than me, and learned so much, particularly from Simon, who taught me how to look at the world afresh.

My desire to create has increased over the years, and has found expression in craft work: sewing, knitting, fabric art, book binding, flag making. My book making has been evolving, very slowly, in a less formal, more expressive way, and involving the use of dyes, inks, stamps, stencils, stitching, collage and more.

Still, I'm not an artist. I still operate from a mindset that, as my school reports said, I lack talent and ability. I can't draw. Over the years I've bought and borrowed and read 'how to' art books, and been to classes, and given up.

The desire has never gone away, and a month ago I bought a book:
 I decided that the only way I'd ever learn to draw / paint was to actually practice - imagine that! This book has you draw every day. It has a page, or part of a page for you to use each day for a year. Each month has a theme (the first is 'nature',) and gives a brief tutorial, and tells you what art supplies to use (the first uses markers and a black pen.) Each day has a prompt. I have taken a deep breath and started yesterday - yes, on 1 January. Not a New Year Resolution so much as a determination.

I have been a procrastinator and a perfectionist most of my life - I put everything off because if I can't be sure I can do something perfectly, I won't even try. Not least because my mother and my teachers were of that generation who believed that the way to inspire children to do better was to point out all the things they did wrong, and to not praise anything in case the child stopped trying. No more. I have spent years trying to work out who I am. I'm still not perfectly clear on that, but I've come to the conclusion that I am too old to procrastinate any longer. I need to do as well as be - otherwise 'being' is pointless: if I am a creative person, I need to create, however badly. And I need to do it without shame or embarrassment - but that's going to take a bit of work!

My instinct is to hide what I do, but even though I know these aren't great, I also know that if I stick at it, the practice will not make perfect, but better, and there is pride, not shame, in trying. I must also say thank you to my wonderfully artistic son, Simon, for his encouragement. These are my first two days efforts.

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