Courage to be creative

This week, I've been doing an art course through Norfolk Adult Education, it's called Skills & Methods and was basically an opportunity to play with as wide a variety of arty media as possible to squeeze into a five-day course.

Earlier this year, when I started exercising my atrophied creativity muscles, I began with adult colouring books. I moved on to painting shapes with watercolour and crayons. Dave raided his and his mum's art supplies and kitted me out with some fab stuff. A bit later on he suggested I do an art course. His reasoning came from years in a laboratory and getting surly PhD students to learn "why spend an afternoon in a library, when you can spend six months in a lab?" Exactly.

The course literature wasn't exactly clear about the level it was aimed at. I thought it was a beginner's course, but actually it required some basic artistic knowledge. The last time I did art was in high school (mumbles 1983). My creative writing degree focused on Conceptual Art rather than Fine Art. 

We began the week with drawing. My lack of skill was particularly obvious, especially compared to the other course attendees. I came home exhausted and demoralised. I did try to find a beginner's beginner course i.e. here's a sheet of paper and here's a pencil, but there really wasn't much else about. The next day, I spoke to the course tutor.

She was appalled that I felt so ground down and was incredibly understanding and supportive. She said I was definitely in the right place and explained that people come with strengths and weaknesses with the different media and it's about playing with everything to see what bites. It also gave me the confidence to ask her to show me how to do things.

She was absolutely right. My drawing skills might suck hairy gorilla's arse (with diarrhoea), but it turns out I'm not bad at other things. I didn't think I would like oil paints. I had assumed oil paints were for proper artists, not really for the likes of me. Except that when I started dipping my brush into the paint, I fell in love. Head over heels, jumping-on-a-sofa kind of love. A love that hits me square in the guts. I love the fact that oils are a slow process. It's a textural thing, you can do long, slow brush strokes, or you can dab it on the canvas with a palette knife. Oil paints are tricksy. What you see up close, isn't the experience when you stand back from it.

This week I've played with ink and stick drawing, charcoal (willow and compressed), chalk and oil pastels, watercolours, acrylics, oils and mixed media for collage. It's been tiring and exhilarating. I stayed over with Dave on Wednesday night and tentatively broached doing the follow up course starting in September.

I was taken aback at his response. Overwhelming support and encouragement. He pointed out the setup expense was pretty much a one-off, once I'd got everything I would only need to buy paper and canvasses. He laughed and compared it to golf. 

If I wanted to take up golf, I'd have to buy a set of clubs - at least £500. Then there would be balls, lessons, green fees and then membership fees. Not to mention silly trousers, shoes and the obligatory glove. My art habit is coming in at a tenth of the cost. 

More importantly, I love it. It gives me The Happy. Doing art does something weird to my brain. It brings to mind a quote from Maya Angelou I saw this week about courage. She likened courage to a muscle that you have to exercise to make stronger. You start off with little steps and the next thing you know you're taking on the world. Yes, she meant it in the context of challenging social injustices, but I find it equally applicable to my writing. 
Still life, oil on canvas (incomplete)

Collage, mixed media
I started off thinking I could write genre fiction because that's all I could write, having written nothing but throwaway copy for eight years. I started doing my art and then I picked up my poetry. Writing poetry again has widened my horizons. Doing the art this week reminded me of the bigger stories I've archived because I've been too scared to write them. Big, scary, painful and important stories that won't be thrown out despite my insecurity.

Doing the art means I am beginning to take my creativity seriously. Very seriously. 

I can't tell you how absolutely terrified I am. The worry about money and my financial future wakes me up and jumps all over me at 3 am. But I can't not do this. To go back to a job now,  to do the sensible thing - even thinking about it feels like failure. 

I am so much more terrified of looking back in 45 years at my cowardice. I may die an impoverished and obscure poet/writer/artist in a workhouse, but I refuse to die disappointed and ashamed that I never properly tried. 

Comments

  1. Art! Excellent! And thank you for showing those very good examples.

    PS: I tried golf a couple of times. It was so depressing to lose new balls in the water hazards. What kind of sport is that where one loses the equipment!

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    1. Thanks honey. I feel it's a good start. Hopefully, in a few years I'll be showing you even better examples.

      I can imagine how distressing it must be to lose your balls, especially the first time you get them out. ;)

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  2. PPS: The thing is, no one else in the world can create an Original Roses!

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    1. That is true. We'll wave a Dr Seuss for this, shall we?

      :D

      xxxx

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  3. Those paintings are good. Very good. You have a real talent. Keep going!

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    1. Thanks very much. I'm not sure about real talent, but we'll see.

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  4. I always enjoyed to work with clay - and even more to glaze it, Glasuren, different wild colours, craquelee, etc. I was never good at it, but I liked it. You put something in the oven that looks like a grey blob, out comes a vibrant funny thing. What fascinates me to bits is drawing - a hand, a pencil, a paper. If this hand belongs to Hr. Duerer ... sadly this hand belongs to Mr. Mago ...

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    1. Clay isn't something I've ever played with. Not ruling it out though.

      I don't think being good at something and enjoying it need to go together. In fact, when you just start out - they really don't. (I have to keep reminding myself of this).

      I'm hoping that with practise my drawing skills will improve...because they sure as hell suck right now.

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  5. You are such an inspiration, Roses! Art was my favourite subject at school and college, but I only dabble with it these days - Your experiences here have encouraged my to get my art box out.

    Your oil on canvas still life is quite wonderful. I particularly like the style of the vase, bottle and their shadow.

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    1. Oh fabulous! Keep it up and hopefully we'll be able to have a blogging art exhibition! Yay!

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  6. I like the vase and bottle too... especially the shading.
    Good for you... potter about and find your Happy.
    I have an odd relationship with lettering/calligraphy... sometimes I want to break up with it... it's frustrating and rewarding in equal measure.
    Sx

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    1. Thanks darling. Apparently, there's something surrealist about it...according to my art tutor.

      From what I've seen your work is outstanding. Please don't break it off. Keep seeing it. xx

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  7. Oh do do do it!!! Art is so good for your soul, even if you think it sucks hairy gorillas arses. Which yours does not. And this is only the beginning!!! As you go, you will evolve and grow and your art will reflect that. This is so wonderful!

    I dabble in drawing now and then, and have worked with clay years ago (we're talking 1988...) which I loved and would like to get back into, and my month long attempt at dating an artist has awakened those loves again... so that begs the question: how am I going to make this art thing work? I love working with clay. You can do so much with it and if it fails, flatten it out (with is cathartic in and of itself for the frustration) and start again. Unless of course, you've already fired the piece... But the thing here is you are an artist! And you are exploring things and so growing your own art by leaps and bounds. And that, my dear Roses, is a wonderful thing. xoxoxo

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    1. I can imagine clay being your medium of choice and I'm so pleased to hear you're going to go back to it.

      It does feel scarily wonderful right now. At the moment, I'm wrestling with my time management to make sure I can get everything done.

      xxxx

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  8. That is very nice, pretty artsy! :) Nice work, girl.

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  9. What an exciting time. I hope you do the course you've clearly got talent. I like the first one especially :)

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    1. It is as the Chinese curse goes: Exciting Times indeed.

      Glad you like it. I'm contemplating getting my brushes and paints out today, if I can ever shift the cat off my lap.

      xxx

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