Wednesday, 14 September 2016

Drawing into a new half century

I was never confident in art lessons. Left handed and ill at ease with paintbrush and pencils, I was usually to be found lurking at the back of the art room, planning how best to skip future art lessons ... in fact, it was with a sense of great relief I dropped the subject from my school curriculum as soon as possible, at the tender age of thirteen.  It wasn't that I didn't enjoy drawing as a child in the privacy of my own home (I always loved using Dad's posh set of Caran D'ache art pencils when I was allowed and to watch him sketching his favourite subject - budgies) but as a shy child, submitting anything artistic to an unimpressed teacher at school, was enough to send my creative self shrinking into a dark corner.

My first eye

As I began to share crayon, paint, pencil and paper with my little Grandson this Summer, I was frustrated by my own lack of drawing ability. A tiny glimmer of determination began to dawn as we happily splashed and smeared colour onto sheets of paper in the sunshine and that glimmer brightened rapidly. Almost before I realised what was happening, a small collection of 'learn to draw' books, tins of graphite and coloured pencils, sketch pads in assorted sizes, a variety of erasers, a green ruler and a drawing board made their way into a big bag, tucked away in the corner of my living room ... within easy reach of my sofa.

Three eye sketches later ...

It was at that point I tentatively mentioned my new hobby to my sisters and discovered my youngest sister had recently started learning to draw and one of my middle sisters was also keen! Spurred on by our shared interest and limited drawing confidence, we launched a sisterly challenge to see if we could each sketch an eye ... one thing led to another and we now have a private family art group on Facebook, set up to encourage one another and anyone else in the family who fancies a dabble ... it turns out, nieces, daughters, daughter-in-laws, a brother-in-law and even a great niece have 'come out' to draw together!

Becoming bolder and starting to play with colour!

We've had loads of fun commenting in our private drawing group and have run several family challenges already, designed to stretch abilities into different directions. 

'Draw a favourite cartoon character'

For me, learning a 'new' skill and facing my drawing demons, is both absorbing and relaxing. I've a very long way to go as there is an immense amount to learn, but at least I am no longer daunted by the prospect ... and the ghost of my old art teacher is fading fast!

Witch in graphite pencil

In fact, last week I even plucked up confidence to try my hand at a couple of portraits based on photographs ... neither of which ended up looking like the people in the photos, but no matter, they are at least recognisable as faces!  Plenty more practice is of course required, but a couple of weeks ago I would never have believed I could even have begun to tackle these!

Portrait drawing in graphite pencil

So, now I've started, I suppose I ought to try drawing a teddy bear at some point eh?!

Challenge: Design and draw a toy

In the meantime, remember my cloth dollies? Well, using coloured pencils, I tried my hand at a little sketch of one of my 'Prim Dolly Doodles', trouble was I made a complete hash of her lower half (who knew sitting a dolly on a flower pot could be so hard to represent?!) so took the liberty of heartlessly cropping her wayward legs off ... until I can find time to try drawing them back on again.

Challenge: Cartoonize yourself!

Teaching myself to draw at this advanced age (let's just say I have edged well into my second half century) sure is proving heaps more fun than my art lessons at school, all those disillusioned decades ago!


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