Monday, 26 September 2011

I wanted to draw this girl simply in pencil and then add just two colours. I added blue to her eyes and red to the tatoo on her arm. I like to simply draw sometimes and I think it really helps me to learn. Learning how to shade has been something I had to teach myself years ago as I never had that teaching at school. I remember when I chose to take art as one of my specialist subjects when I did my B.ED I was terrified as I was surrounded by school leavers (I was 36 at that time) who knew all about it. When I first heard one of them mention "cross hatching" I wanted to run and leave the room. Somehow I got through that blind panic and fear of looking like a fool though but even then for the next couple of years, I tried to avoid drawing, working mainly in colour, printing, textiles etc. I know exactly that it was my fear of looking inferior to everyone else that prevented me doing more drawing at that time.

So stupid. As a teacher, I spent my entire life reminding children that it is fine not to know how to do something because school is a place where you can learn. Why is it that so many of us are "experts" in helping others and useless at following our own advice?

It wasn't until two and a half years ago that I finally summoned up the courage to try and really improve my drawing by admitting that I was a learner. I joined a wonderful social network art site that was running at the time called "Taking Flight". Somehow it was so much easier to admit I wanted to learn to draw in this anonymous way to the other people on the site who were not sitting in my front room looking me in the eye!

That was when I started art journalling. When I look back now at those first tentative drawings and paintings I can see my inhibitions and anxiety looking back at me. As I turn the pages of my first journal I can see the moments when I tried to make a "quantum" leap forward in courage and I can also see how my courage slowly grew and grew and by the end of that first journal a whole exploration of not just my drawing skills had taken place, but also an exploration of my confidence.

I have three more journals now and for a while, I put that first one away in a drawer because I knew a lot of it was inferior. The other day though I saw it looking up at me almost indignantly. "How could you do this to me?" it seemed to be saying. "Once....I was the light of your little creative life." I took it out of the drawer then and went through it page by page. I had written on each page when I had made it and on some pages, what was happening in my life at the time. As I went into hospital for major surgery quite early on in the journal, it really is a recording of deep emotion. Looking back through it, I felt very comforted to know I had made it to here. I found myself reliving not just the experiences then but also the very feelings I had had, as I had made my journal pages. Living memories for me.

So making this drawing above, "Girl with a scarlet tattoo" reminded me in particular of the very first page of my very first journal. I do like her anyway but for some reason, because she took me back to the beginning of my love affair with art journalling, she is rather special.

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