After a long summer break, Mackenzie (11 years old) started up lessons again yesterday. We have so much fun together, and I love her enthusiasm for life and her sense of humour.
I decided to try a couple alternative or unconventional drawing exercises with Mackenzie yesterday. I want to teach her to see. Or rather, to see more clearly. To see things in a new way. It's amazing how learning to see differently can affect the way someone draws, paints, or creates in other ways.
So, one of the exercises I had Mackenzie do was a Tactile Self-Portrait: She had to close her eyes and slowly feel her face, hair, shoulders etc. I asked her to draw what she felt.
The purpose of this exercise was for Mackenzie to 'think outside of the box' . To challenge her to 'see' in a different way. To translate what she felt with her fingers (tactile information) into visual lines.
I helped Mackenzie find the colours she wanted to use.
It's common to judge the value of art based on how well it represents something. This is an example of placing value in every line and colour - In this case, every line and colour change represents something to Mackenzie.
I always look forward to lessons with Megan. Besides being so sweet and sincere, Megan is serious about art. In an earlier blog I mentioned the black and white self-portraits that some of my students have been working on (using the "grisaille" method). Megan began her grisaille self-portrait painting back in winter sometime, and finished glazing the colour on it in the middle of the summer. It was a long process, and a challenge... for both of us! I have to admit (as I did to Megan) I was nervous about using her as my 'guinea pig' for this classical approach to portraiture.
However, it turned out beautifully:
This past summer I began art lessons with Zack - who is 12 years old. I immediately recognized the natural talent in him. He is very perceptive.
Within just a few lessons, Zack decided he wanted me to teach him how to draw faces - realistic faces. So, after some basic teaching on the face (proportions and so on), Zack worked on his first official self-portrait drawing. In just two lessons he created a beautiful drawing; I'm so proud of him!
I'm excited to see what else he will create in this next year.
Today my mom came by and spent some time with me in my studio. While I was working on a commission, she worked on her own painting beside me.
In the last few months I have come across random people who have told me how they paint a little bit, or sometimes draw, or that they would love to be able to paint or draw better... And of course there are always people who say they can't even draw a stick person. For those of you who can relate to this thinking (including those of you who cannot draw a stick person, and have always secretly wished you could...) I want to encourage you!
As you know we must exercise our bodies if we want to become strong. The same goes for the drawing skill... exercising our brain and training our eyes to see things differently can make a huge difference when it comes to putting pencil to paper. I feel like I've personally developed this skill just in the last few months, due to practicing and pushing myself.
It may be that the ability to draw well might come naturally to some people - however, I'm beginning to really believe that anyone, anyone, (with determination and desire) could learn to draw. I've stumbled across some excellent material on the left vs. right side of the brain, which includes great exercises to train yourself to see differently. I'm excited about applying this information in my art lessons. I've already seen results in my students who have received this teaching. It's exciting to see!
So you might be wondering... "So what if I can draw a tree!?" Well, there is such a satisfaction found in 'losing oneself' in drawing. A brain shift occurs when someone gets into that creative mindset, and it's such a good thing (ha - I wonder if Martha Stewart will ever include drawing on her list of Good Things).
I challenge you to grab some paper and a pencil (doesn't need to be a fancy pencil or special paper), and simply start drawing some object around you. Better yet, bundle up and sit outside with a mug of tea. Force yourself to see the lines and shapes of a tree or an old shed differently, and just put some lines down on the paper. Give yourself 30-60 minutes of uninterrupted time (if possible!), and I'm certain you won't regret that hour spent. Let me know how it goes!
I live in Southern Ontario on a farm with my husband, Dennis, and our two daughters. Painting out of my studio on our farm allows me to stay close to my family and to be surrounded by the natural landscape that continues to influence my work.