Monthly Archives: May 2017

A New Approach

I go to a life drawing class every Tuesday. It’s two years since I started attending and it’s one of the best things I’ve ever done. No matter how worried, stressed or down I feel when I arrive, the simple act of looking and concentrating always lifts my mood. You simply can’t fret about something when you’re trying to work out what’s wrong with the hand you just drew.

Some people liken drawing to meditation and it definitely is similar for me. For two hours, the incessant voice in my head goes quiet. I am totally present, totally in the moment, totally content.

But that only works when I am challenging myself and lately I have been in a bit of a rut.  Each painting looks similar to the last. Each is fairly successful, fairly accurate, and fairly boring (at least to me).

I mentioned this to the class leader Helen, and she suggested that I try something completely different – drawing and painting with my pencil and brushes taped to a long stick. This sounded completely mad to me but it turned out to be just what I needed.

The length of the stick meant it was hard to control the pencil and impossible to make my usual marks. Art is like life in that, once you have found a way of being, you tend to stick to it. Your drawing style remains the same no matter what the subject. You hold the pencil the same way, you make the same marks over and over again. And sometimes you bore yourself silly.

The drawing I created in the first half of the class was more interesting and lively and personality-filled than any I have done over the last two years. And in the second hour, when I taped a big brush to my stick and began to paint, all kinds of surprising things happened.

IMG_5312

I just love this painting. It’s imperfect but I love the imperfections. And as I write this, I am aware that life drawing class made me happy tonight. Actually happy. Which makes me wonder …. exactly why is that?

Because if I can figure out the different elements that go into that experience, maybe I can find that kind of contentment more often …

via Daily Prompt: Control

Walking Back to Happiness

In 2015, I set myself the task of painting my own face. every day, for a whole year. It was torment. Not only was it a tough time in my life, but it also meant looking at myself every day – something I usually avoid at all costs.

When that year ended, I felt things were unfinished. I still wasn’t happy, I still hadn’t found peace. I initially committed to finding something to be grateful for every day. But it was hard. Maybe it was too much of a leap from misery to daily gratitude. Or maybe it’s just that gratitude is so far from my default position that I couldn’t get into the swing of it. I floundered. I tried but I couldn’t always see past the sadness, or I was too busy and I forgot. Or anything I had to say sounded twee and annoying even to myself.

So now I’m ready to take a new tack.

There is one thing that always calms me down, always distracts my mind from its endless negative rumination. One thing I can count on to always be a friend …. Art. Specifically making art. Making good art, making bad art, drawing or painting, pencil, charcoal, pastel, watercolour, ink – it doesn’t even matter. As long as I am communicating in that way, I am calm.

I have been stuck for a long time, trying to find happiness in people and situations where it can never reside. Happiness, I truly believe, can only come from within and it is time for me to find mine. The first step in that quest is to draw or paint or collage as much as possible. I am not committing to one drawing a day – I may need weeks to finish a piece or I may do a quick sketch. I don’t know yet how that will evolve.

I’m reviving this blog as a way to track my journey and share what I create – the good, the bad and the ugly. I don’t know if anyone else will be interested and it’s fine either way. This is my journey.

It’s time.

IMG_5295 2

Sketch of Cononley church. Ink, watercolour and pastel. April 30th 2017.