Practice, practice, practice

When I was about five years old, an adult told me that I couldn’t draw. Adults know best and all, so I accepted their judgment. I couldn’t draw. So I didn’t.

My mother is incredibly creative and a fantastic artist. She could have made a living as an artist. But she made it to adulthood at a time when a small town girl from West Virginia made a living by getting a real job. Art was something you did in your spare time. A great hobby, but not a legitimate way to pay bills.

God love the woman, she tried to teach me to draw. She would sketch everything, paper positioned so I could copy her, telling me rules of perspective and proportion, showing me how to break anything down into basic shapes. And I would pretend to follow along.

I was a horrible student. I didn’t even try. Apples and cherries were the same size, and both were circles. Things far away were the same size and on the same level as things closer to me. I knew I couldn’t draw, so I didn’t bother trying to learn.

She didn’t quit, though. She taught me how to use stencils and how to make my own. She encouraged my efforts at poetry and short stories. She bought all the supplies I could use for friendship pins and, later on, friendship bracelets. Knitting and crochet supplies. Sewing. Cross stitch. Embroidery. Clay. If it was creative and I showed an interest, she encouraged it.

It’s a little strange to be learning to draw and paint now. My kids gave me brushes and canvases, journals and pens for Christmas. My parents added pretty things for my home because Mom says it’s easier to feel creative when you have things around you that make you happy.

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Charcoal figure

I’m still learning figures and proportion. I’m still learning to use charcoal, too. In this case, I brushed over it with water to create an overall tint, then darkened the lines and shading.

She’s not perfect. Neither am I, so it’s all good. Every time I try, every time I give it another shot, I learn something that I can apply next time. And each time offers proof that grown-ups don’t know everything, and can or can’t is totally up to me.

 

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