The Magic of Making Art

I discovered two of the most important things in my adult life via blogs on completely unrelated subjects. One was mindfulness (found on a blog about work productivity), the other was drawing (found on a blog about photography).

I’ve written plenty here about mindfulness, so now a bit about art… It’s just as fantastic!

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Yesterday afternoon, feeling kind of ‘February-ish’, I sat down with some wax crayons, and drew the winter image above, thinking of the Thames in Oxfordshire, where I grew up.

Later that night, feeling a little overwhelmed by that heavy February sky, I sat down again with a bunch of watercolours to paint the Mediterranean scene below, from another image I had in my mind’s eye. It cheered me up! I sent it to my sister via Whatsapp, she said it cheered her up too! Great! The Mediterranean swept away the Thames Valley blues!

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This all started when I began drawing and painting again a few years ago. As is typical, I gave up making art in my teens, discouraged by other kids being much ‘better’ at school. I carried on with photography instead, which satisfied my creative needs for years. But then photography became so digital, and so linked to the computer, that, being so long on the computer all day anyway, I got fed up with it and took less and less photos. That’s when I found an article about learning to draw on a photographer’s blog.

That led me to a wonderful book called “The New Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain” by Betty Edwards, which taught me to draw from life, which has given me enormous pleasure. Drawing things like this:

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I ended up doing short art courses, going on ‘sketch crawls’, ‘urban sketching’, and recovering something that was long lost – the magic of making art. Something that uses a whole other side not only of our brain, but our soul.

And it doesn’t matter at all how ‘good’ we are (in our or other people’s eyes), because really in art there is no good or bad. That’s just the judging mind! (And observing the self-criticising voice in our head, having a go at our art, is an excellent mindfulness exercise!)

Something magic happens when we play with lines and colours to make a drawing or painting from our imagination. Or when we observe deeply the outside world to draw it carefully onto a piece of paper. It’s transformative! I can’t recommend it highly enough. If you’ve lost it since childhood, bring art back into your life!

At the moment, while it’s too cold to be sitting still outside for long, I’m mostly drawing and painting trees from memory, playing with indian inks…

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…drawing every tree is like a meditation.

So if you think, like I did, ‘Hmmmm… That looks like fun!’ – It is! Have a go!

“What an artist is trying to do for people is to bring them closer to something, because of course art is about sharing: you wouldn’t be an artist unless you wanted to share an experience, a thought. I am constantly preoccupied with how to remove distance so that we can all come closer together, so that we can all begin to sense we are the same, we are one.” David Hockney (Hockney’s Pictures, Thames and Hudson)

“I have always believed that art should be a deep pleasure. I think there is a contradiction in an art of total despair, because the very fact that the art is made seems to contradict despair.” David Hockney (Hockney’s Pictures, Thames and Hudson)

3 thoughts on “The Magic of Making Art”

  1. I had the same relationship with photography. I stopped taking pictures once it became digital. I started with film, and I started taking pictures in Madrid and Alcalá de Henares. If I will not be printing my own photos in a darkroom, I don’t want to do it. Drawing allows you to have that direct, tactile, relationship with the medium. I think I will pick it up again. It is interesting that you are drawing trees; I just had a though the other day, which I wrote down in my notepad, and that thought was that there is no correct way to compose. For that same reason, however, there is no incorrect way. By correct I mean visually stimulating, of course.

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