Make do and mend with Oh Sew Kitty
It’s not just a wooden gate, it’s a wash of yellow ochre, burnt sienna and a touch of lime green. Just back from a painting class I was happy to be seeing the world around me in a different way. Running with the colour theme, I wondered whether I’d see vermillion red on the school run! lol
That was a few months ago and a very strong reaction to the painting experience. All my senses seemed to be heightened and it all felt slightly intoxicating. Then life took over as it has a tendency to do, and although I kept going to the painting classes I didn’t feel the same intensity again until I had some time on my own relaxing on holiday. I decided to make the most of the inspiration and was incredibly productive (some would say obsessive!) knitting two scarves, dyeing a range of fabrics, making leggings and a neck warmer from felted garments and learning to crochet all in the space of four days! Then it was time to go back to work and back to using the other side of my brain.
So, my question today is whether it’s possible to tap into the other side of the brain without having to go to the extreme of booking a holiday. Some say it’s possible to tap into creativity through meditation or from practising yoga. I guess from that I’d deduce that it’s a case of just loosening up and relaxing. I think I get why certain artists in history took a shortcut and just drunk a lot! I must admit I did once inadvertently follow suit on a ceramic painting BYOB evening. Mt painting partner was way-laid and so I thought it’s be a shame to waste the bottle. Rather tipsily I handed in the large flower vase (funny how you get more confident when you’ve had a one or three!) to be fired in the kiln. I really was rather pleased when I collected it and realised that the paintwork looked quite fresh and loose. That was a lesson well learnt and I realised you don’t need alcohol necessarily, you just need to loosen your grip on the paintbrush and get the first mark down straightaway without thinking too much. My creative machine embroidery teacher once advised us not to get precious about a small purse that the beginner’s group were finishing off. She pointed out that it was just a piece of fabric at the end of the day! Wise words and something that I’ve taken with me to other classes. I think there’s a feeling that anything made in an art class has to be “good” and that somehow the creator’s whole being is validated by their creations. I used to feel like this, but the more I do, the more I accept that it’s a part of my life that I just need to do rather like cooking on a daily basis or brushing my teeth. I’m far happier when I’m creating, even if other people may not like what I produce. That really isn’t the point. It is lovely though if someone gets something out of one of my creation. It may just spark off something in them and do find that rather exciting.
A technique that my drawing and painting teacher uses to loosen us up is to get down and dirty with charcoal. Cover the blank sheet with marks from the edge of charcoal sticks and you’ve got no choice but to get messy and loosen up your thinking and your grip on your tools of the trade. It’s quick and immediate and you’ve no time to worry about details and whether it’s good enough. I can churn out the drawings in a short space of time. Lines, angles, and ellipses I usually avoid, however even I have fun rendering some bottles armed with charcoal and my trusty rubber or artist’s putty. No need for precision and some great effects can be produced giving you the confidence to experiment in ways you wouldn’t normally consider.
I didn’t notice the colours around me today as I had all those months ago, however as I left my class today I noticed light, shade and perspective. Great! Something clicked today and I’m noticing things that I felt were missing from my work. This sense of progress is something, that as an adult can be missing from our lives. The same can be said for any hobby, whether it be artistic, sporty or otherwise. It doesn’t always feel inspiring and sometimes it does depend on the teacher, but I’m a great advocate for setting aside an hour or two each week to pursue something that grabs you. If time is tight or circumstances dictate, then it may not possible to get out to a class. If that’s the case, I’d mark an hour aside in your diary, perhaps midweek and turn off your phone. This is YOUR time. Enjoy!
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Writer in Australia who creates characters that often don't like me.
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