Drawing, Not Writing: Branching Out with Creativity

Today I decided to try out something different– and pick up some art supplies.

With my writing, I’m very precious about it. But art is something entirely new. I know nothing, so that’s liberating.

I had asked an artist friend where she recommended I go and took her advice. She recommended I invest in two notebooks– a sketchpad, and some better paper where I can transfer the images into when I’m serious.

After asking the sales people, I decided on newsprint for the sketch pad and charcoal paper for the better notebook. I invested in some good quality oil pastels– only seven of them in colors I really enjoy. Four small ones, and three big ones of colors I plan to use a lot. The kits were so expensive, and I couldn’t afford the quality of high pigment I wanted.

I then drove back to meet my friend at her studio, where she had invited me to come experiment and to show me some basic techniques if I wanted to learn. I was stoked about her generosity! I arrived and it was perfect–  a small room she rents, and she had music and a bunch of different mediums. She offered me free reign over her supplies, which floored me.

I started off just trying out an image on the paper, and it was glorious just to see the colors and smear them on the paper. She asked me how I felt about it, but told me not to try so hard. I felt I was ready to move on, and then she told me to just forget about images and just go with instinct. I couldn’t help making shapes and let go. It was better, but still I was holding something back. I tried one more time, and it started to look more primal.

It was difficult for me to relax because I kept thinking about conserving my materials, since the oil pastels I chose were not cheap. I might have been better off with a cheaper kit with more colors, but I wanted higher pigmentation. I’d rather have a few intense colors I love.

Then she did something truly astonishing– offering me a space on her wall. At first the white space left me feeling timid, as blank paper usually does. But then I just got started, and everything changed.

I can see now why people get addicted to making art.

All those scenes in movies of artists angrily attacking a canvas– I get it. It’s better than a punching bag. You emit what’s inside of you and it manifests onto the medium. Wow. It’s more challenging and somehow more primal than writing.

The bigger space freed me. I used some of her chalk pastels and a few different images ended up emerging– I was truly surprised. She then offered to let me paint over them with water– which was fun as well. The colors dripped down the wall. I had started out with a word, and built the colors around it to camouflage it.

My hands were filthy with chalk and oil pastels. I LOVED it.

I started off using the brush, but then abandoned that and smeared it with my hands.

Some people garden. Some people make furniture or fix cars.

I like smearing color. I chose oil pastels because of the raw intensity, and because I have no skills. I don’t know the first thing about drawing technique or form. It’s less intimidating.

If Writing is a relationship, and we are in an open relationship. I still love Writing, but want to experience other mediums.

I think that’s why I’ve gotten stuck with this blog. I’m just BORED.

I know all about words. I want to learn something new.

Words are finite and specific. Art is expansive, ambiguous.

I asked my friend to take a picture of me in front of my first “canvas” picture– she caught me with a smirk. I was trying to be serious, but she made me smile and snapped it between. In the picture, my hands are almost black. I’m wearing weird clothes and pigtails.

Today was a perfect day.

She asked me if I thought I was done, and I decided I was ready to let that go.

Then she offered to show me a little bit about drawing– we worked on drawing circles, then the basics of drawing a face. We worked together on copying the eyes, nose and mouth of a model in a magazine.

She corrected me on how I was holding my pencil.

“We’re drawing, not writing,” she kept saying.

That really was difficult for me– to loosen my grip, hold the pencil higher at the end. But I kept working on it.

Three hours had passed, to my shock. She sent me home with one of her books about drawing and painting techniques to borrow, a small jar of turpentine and a homework assignment.

What an incredible friend, I’m still aghast.

I thanked her warmly, washed off my hands, and drove to Denny’s– where I worked a little bit independently. I didn’t look at anyone around me, I wasn’t distracted by my phone.

When I got the check, I noticed color smeared on my sleeve– and I loved that too.

Which is hilarious, because normally I hate stains on my clothes. I’ve gotten rid of several otherwise good items of clothing because of a stain I couldn’t remove. But it’s different if it’s artistic– that’s cool.

I can’t wait to go back and show her what I’ve learned! And get more art supplies– some pencils for drawing, an eraser and brushes so I can try painting with my pastels.

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