Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Growing the Skillset

The other week, I wrote this post about sculptural beads. The post started a chat on Facebook about skills from one art form being useful in another. I agree wholeheartedly.

I never really thought of myself as an artist. I viewed myself as more the crafty type. I could make just about anything I set my mind to. It was rubber stamping of all things that awakened an artist. When I got into stamping... I REALLY got into it. I was taking classes from renown teachers and yes, artists. And I was being exposed to better quality materials with each new project. Suddenly, I was not afraid to go into an art supply store to look around (as opposed to a Michael's).

But I still wouldn't call myself the A word. Not until I was working on a t.v. show...another craft show and it was my job to design many of the projects and do the step outs on all the projects, including those designed by others. (Step outs = "the magic of television" where something is magically completed and ready for another step.)

That much-needed job arrived in my lap when my childhood best friend and her family were coming for a month long visit. I was working on my back porch on both a sewing and a glass etching project when my friend said, "You were always an artist."

I balked at the comment. "I'm not an artist - I can't draw."

"What's THAT got to do with being an artist?"

"Uh... Everything!"

"NO, it doesn't... you sound just like old woman _________ (our childhood art teacher). She thought anyone who couldn't draw like Steve was hopeless. (Steve was a kid in school so talented he once got placed in all remedial high school classes because he was so bored taking yet another achievement test, he filled in all the boxes on his scantron to form a galloping horse!)

My friend continued...."Drawing is just one of many skills... skills come naturally to some but they can also be learned."

I realized she was right... I always had good ideas and never shied away from any project... as long as there was no drawing involved.

Not long after that, I found myself owning a rubber stamp company and my friend Becky twisted my arm to go along with her to become a certified PMC teacher. Immediately, I knew I hated the rubber stamps they were using to texturize the silver. By this point I had written and photographed a book, developing some crazy photoshop skills along the way. I still didn't think I could draw...but I could manipulate lines in photoshop. I came home from that class and within a month, had drawn 24 images and then sold the resulting rubber stamps to the PMC manufacturer! So much for the theory that I can't draw!

There is no question I am comfortable drawing digitally. I know I can clean anything up and make it look good in the computer. But I knew I wanted to know more about the principles of drawing. So I enrolled in a beginning class at night at my community college.

It was a challenge but it taught me more about "seeing" than I thought possible. Seeing it is the first part of doing.

I'm not exceptionally proud of these things...I would never hang them on my wall but I keep them to remind me of lessons learned.

Still life drawings teach us to see relationships in perspective and size.

An experiment in shading teaches value - seeing light and darkness.

The next two are both spatial studies... drawing the negative space around an object. By seeing the space between, you actually draw the object with a bit more accuracy because you're not all in your own head, concentrating on making the object perfect. Drawing nothing or nothingness...the space between, takes the pressure off.

So, no, I'm not going to find myself selling my sketches and paintings to gallery. But by being open to the process, I've overcome my fear of the one thing that held me back. And the skills learned in that class carry over into the art forms I do practice on a daily basis: photography and glass.


JanelDudleyBeads said...

You can most definitely draw! Those are very cool!

Becky said...

I can't wait to see those in person!

Createology said...

Your words speak for many of us. I am not an artist because I can't paint or draw was the old thinking years ago. Now I AM an ARTIST because I can do so many creative endeavors and love to try lots of mediums. I am happy with what I can do. Happy creating...