Just Do It

January 24, 2010

River Bank, Oil on Canvas 8" x 10"

Only three weeks until the spring session of my watercolor classes begin at Rock Valley College. I have sent in the proposal for a Rock Valley summer workshop to run June 14, 15 and 16 and I received the contract proposal for the summer workshop at The Peninsula School of Art scheduled to run June 24, 25, and 26. Teaching is on my mind. Fortunately, creating art is a right brain/left brain thing. While painting I can let my mind wander (hopefully it remembers to come back) and ponder thoughts for making my classes more meaningful, more dynamic, and more successful.

I received an e-mail from a woman (hopefully a future watercolor student). She expressed a concern of having  no experience with art, perspective or anything that resembles artwork except just participation with being creative. Should she take a drawing class first?  How do I suggest she get started so she could eventually learn to paint what she sees in nature.

My quick answer to her question is – as Nike advertises – just do it. The doing is often the hardest part. If you have the passion to create, the rest you can learn either on your own, with other interested people or with classes and instruction. Grab a sketch book and devote an hour a day to sketching. It does not matter whether you sketch people, apples, trees, houses, children’s building blocks, your breakfast dishes – just devote time to practice and develope hand and eye coordination. Draw an object and judge for yourself if you captured the essence. If not, analyze what worked and what didn’t work in your sketch and draw it again until you feel comfortable with your sketch. Do not be content with a “once and done” effort. Practice drawing an object over and over again until you get it right in your mind’s eye. Take pride in and enjoy all of your efforts.

Use pen (my preferred tool), pencil, charcoal, marker – it doesn’t matter,  have playtime and just enjoy the doing. The drawing and sketching is for you. Nobody ever has to see your sketchbook. A sketchbook is a record of your playtime. Don’t be critical of your efforts. Even if the efforts don’t meet your expectations, enjoy the time that you had just doing it. Continued enthusiatic efforts will eventually yield successful results. In my level 1 watercolor classes, I tell the students to think of painting (or drawing) as if they were back in first grade, and create without fear. There are no wrong answers. The only failure is to give up trying.
I do believe that painting is nothing more than drawing with a brush. If you can draw it, you can paint it. Learn to draw and the painting will come easier. If a student feels they need support and incentive, they can try classes. They may want to investigate joining a local art group, such as the Rockford Art Guild or The Eagle’s Nest Art Group, to help them network with other art enthusiasts.
Want to learn to draw? Just Do It.

Winter Field, Oil on Canvas 16" x 12"

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