I Didn’t Know…

Who would’ve thought?!

… that I could draw.

… that there’s a creative side to me.

… that I’d live to see the day where someone would refer to me as an “artist”.

And yet, at the age of 42, I have discovered an entire world of inspiration, imagination, colour and fun.

How did I stumble upon this, you ask? And how could I not have known of my artistic ability?

Here’s my story…

Earlier this year, I wanted to try a pottery class but, to my dismay, the class was full.

As I looked at what else was offered, the following title instantly caught my attention:

“Drawing for the Terrified Beginner”.

“Perfect! That’s me!” I thought to myself. “I’m terrified and I can’t draw. Where do I sign up?”

I clearly remember that first evening in March, timidly walking in to the studio, feeling like a kid on its first day of school.

The room was large yet inviting, bathed in a warm glow, with every manner of art work wherever you turned.

Several tables were bunched together in the center of the room draped with tablecloths – once white – now completely bespattered with paint; evidence of the countless budding artists that have sat in these seats.

The faint smell of paint and the burst of colours all around me brought my senses to life. I didn’t know what to expect, but I was excited, curious… and terrified!

Up until now I believed that drawing and artistic ability were talents one was born with. You either had them, or you didn’t.

But I was wrong.

What I learned over the last year, was that drawing is a teachable skill.

No, not everyone will be a Picasso or Michaelangelo, but it is not a gift bestowed at birth by the Muses (one of which I happen to be named after – but that’s another story), as I had always assumed.

Under the encouraging guidance and instruction of my wonderful instructor, Kathy Chelin, I learned so many new ways to view the world around me and how to translate what I see onto paper.

I learnt that there are five basic perceptual skills of drawing and that these are teachable. The five components that make up the skill of drawing are:

  1. The perception of edges
  2. The perception of spaces
  3. The perception relationship (perspective and proportion)
  4. The perception of  lights and shadows
  5. The perception of the whole

The other fascinating thing I learned is that how you draw currently has nothing to do with your potential to draw well. What your current drawing represents is the age at which you last drew.

Think about it… at what age did you give up trying to draw? I’ll bet it coincides with your existing skill level.

Huh! Who would’ve thought?!

Now, don’t get me wrong… every class hasn’t been a blast. There are classes where I still end up with something that looks like I made it with my feet, not my two hands.

Uncomfortable feelings of frustration and embarrassment still rear their ugly head, making me want to slink away and never come back.

But this is part of learning anything new: inexpertness, ineptness and lack of ability – in other words, feeling highly uncomfortable.

As adults, we shy away from anything that places us in this situation. We like to engage in activities we’re good at and avoid putting ourselves in a “terrified” position.

In addition to opening myself up to an entirely new world, I discovered how utterly calming drawing and painting is. Watching the colours of paint swirl together on my palette and trying to capture the curve of a leaf is so meditative.

I always leave class with an attitude of wonder and tranquility.

Boy am I glad that pottery class was full!

 

What about you?

Is there something you’ve never dared to try because you thought you aren’t cut out for it, or because you haven’t allowed yourself to sit with the uncomfortable feeling of ‘inability’ long enough to learn a new skill?

Would you be willing to reconsider moving out of your comfort zone for the possible exchange of awe and delight?

Let me know what you think by leaving a reply below. I would love to hear your point of view.

 

4 thoughts on “I Didn’t Know…

  1. It’s wonderful to see these drawing and paintings. I feel you are right about the reluctance of adults to try new things. The fear of looking stupid. Which is perhaps why we need a Stupid School. It’s interesting how individual interest in music is encouraged much more than painting or drawing.

    1. Thank you for your kind words, Susan.
      It is interesting indeed how hesitant we are as adults to attempt drawing or painting.
      We don’t want to take a class because we don’t already know how to draw… and yet we’d never think this way for a language class or any other new endeavour.
      Even myself – I only ended up in the class because there weren’t any openings in pottery. Did I know anything about pottery? No, but I had no hesitations signing up, whereas with the drawing class I was indeed ‘terrified’.
      And you’re right – it’s the fear of looking stupid… that’s where a great teacher comes into play. I credit any progress I’ve made to my instructor, Kathy Chelin.
      She somehow knows how to instruct and help you move forward, all the while providing sincere encouragement and support.
      Thanks again, for taking the time to leave a comment, Susan.

    1. Awww, Robin, you are too sweet. Thanks for the encouragement and kind words…
      Funny you should ask what is next for me… I have been working on creating a workshop and a group program, and I was going to talk with you to see if the Nature Centre might be a good place to run it. The general gist: I meet with a group outdoors (somewhere like High Park, for example) to help people get back in touch with mother nature and explore their creative side (doing some art-inspired things and zoning in on the 5 senses) while using some mind-body tools and noticing the impact sitting in nature, even for a bit, has on us… I am creating different versions along the same lines with the key focus being lessening overwhelm. Trying to help people take a ‘pause’ from playing the ‘responsible adult role’ all the time.
      Name of my program “From Overwhelm to Awe” *smile*

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