Tuesday, 17 April 2012

life lessons via 'amateur' art

Last night was our first lesson at what I'm calling 'Art School.' 
It isn't really 'school' as in, 'Learn this, practise that, repeat until it is decided that you have mastered it.' 
It's way-hey better than that. Artist Sandy Curry & I moved to the same village at around about the same time, and now she's running art classes on Monday evenings at her gallery, 'Sea, Sky, Art'. Seven of us have signed up for the first course and met yesterday for two hours of creativity, champagne and chocolate brownies. (Note to self: don't eat the course fees in brownies) 

First up, we pulled items out of a basket, and then attempted to draw them without looking at what we'd selected. Those exercises heightened our awareness of shape and texture, and were enough to teach me that I don't like the mess and grayness of charcoal, and I'm never going to be a fine artist, heavily involved in detail. And that's where it got fun. Sandy had set up a few still life props, and encouraged us to do as we wanted. Others moved from charcoal up to pastels, or oil pastels, and I hit up the acrylics. I wanted to *p*a*i*n*t. Michaelangelo didn't do the Sistine chapel in charcoal, did he?  To be fair, he didn't use acrylics either, but I'm pretty sure that's only because they hadn't been invented yet. 

Sandy's an artist, not an art teacher - so while she was encouraging and advising, there were no constraints, and no embarrassment. I gave up school art at age 13, out of sheer frustration that I couldn't get what was in my head out onto the page - and I didn't like being 'worse than average' at something. (I'm in my 30s - this was before all the touchy-feely 'no one fails' schooling came in, instead, at end of term, marks were read out in class.) 

So I was pretty nervous to start with. I wasn't even sure why this was something I wanted to do - other than just knowing I ought to, considering how easy the set up is - a short walk from home, a chance to meet new people and spend some time with others who I already know & like, great value for money - particularly given the chocolate brownies. 

And to my delight, it was way better than I remember art lessons, or could have ever anticipated. So often we don't try something just because it's so far fetched from our everyday life, and would require too much in effort, money, or time. Instead, while I was standing on the plastic sheet protecting the floor in Sandy's art gallery (good thinking), balancing my foil palette with one hand, and contemplating the dirty paintbrushes I was going to faithfully recreate, I realised just why this was good for me:

It's mindfulness in action. 

For two hours of every week, what becomes important is being right in the moment, concentrating on the curve of a tulip stem, or the texture of a wooden stool. There's no space for imagined worries, boring life admin, stressful relationships, 'to do' or life laundry lists. This is all about noticing the exact details of what is in front of you, and deciphering them as you see fit. Each of us had different interpretations of the same things - and while kids in art class are worried about who is best or right - as adults we're okay with that. Each of our works are different because of our life experiences, ambitions, and unique focus - even on a ceramic jug, or the draping of a fabric.
So here you go, the result:
Sandy didn't offer to sell it in her gallery, and when I asked fellow student Janet if she wanted to put it up in her pub, she quickly declined. My lovely beautician hesitated, and considering she's in charge of my face, I decided not to foist it too hard upon her. It's not exactly calming for the spa - environment. I get that.  Later, the kind gentlemen at the Indian restaurant said they'd take it, but they wouldn't even give me a free naan bread for it, so I think they didn't really mean it. 
I didn't mind.
Until today:
While on a skype chat with my sister, the cat and her kids, (that's how we roll), I showed them my painting, and Pookles, age 2.5, declared 'Carly's painted a castle.'

Clearly I'm an abstract painter.
Tugi, aged 7, doubtfully asked to double check: 'What is it?'

Before I could hand out my life lesson on mindfulness, art for art's sake, creativity and the peacefulness that comes from within,
Paige reprimanded her:  'It's Carly's castle' 

as in: 'you might be the big sister but you're a moron.'

So I thought I'd tell you instead:
Pick up a brush, pencil or whatever tool pleases you-
Look at the most everyday of objects in a new and still way.
Then make a mess -
And have some fun.

Life lesson done.


Gillian said...

I thought it was very good! You know I did something similar with books for the kids recently and was amazed by the sense of achievement I attained!

And the 'castle' referred to is what now appears to be a jug - she thought you'd made a sand castle!

nicci vdw said...

Love that you were brave enough to try! I am still trying to pluck up the courage to tackle some painting or other arty type vibe - stupid as once upon a time I wasn't too shabby at it.

Carie said...

101 things to do in 1001 days.....No. 2 = check :-)

Carly {covet.collect.connect} said...

Exiggly ed zachery Carie!!

I need to do an update on those 101 things - hoping to hit up no 18 this weekend, G'nT's while watching some African game. I want elephants and giraffe for sure, they are my favs. And rhino.

Nicci - art classes with a teacher that encourages you is such a good way to do it. I used enough paint and ate enough brownies to offset the cost of the course!

Patsy said...

Wowzers - I love it!

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