The Art of Creating and Misunderstanding Creating Art

I’ve been doing some experimenting lately – sort of letting myself go “out on a limb.”  which isn’t something I’m necessarily prone to do.  I’d have to say, I think I may start going out on the proverbial limb a little more often.

My first big step was almost a year ago and I registered for a drawing class.  The beginner class was full, so I took a deep breath and signed up for the intermediate/advanced class.

The first lesson was to draw a sunflower.  I started it in January and I finished it in March.  I was nearly petrified at the thought of drawing a circle that would become the center of the flower and  I tried not to focus on the petals that seemed to fly onto everyone’s paper but mine.  What I didn’t know is they were all just as nervous as I was.  I also didn’t understand that the point of the lesson wasn’t to make a carbon copy of the original, it was to learn about shading.

sunflower_first drawing in over 20 years

The next drawing was a landscape and very complex.  I shocked myself with the fact that somehow I grasped two point perspective (well sort of).  This drawing took me even longer than the sunflower did, but I think it was worth the effort.  Again, I misunderstood the point of the exercise.  The focus was to learn about perspective and proportion as well as to experiment with a new medium. (the background trees are done in ink)

There were a few other projects in the first class and I learned with every drawing.

The second session started off with a first for me.  I was thrilled when I completed the pine cone during class.  Until that morning, I’d never finished a piece in anything less than four long working sessions. (I think this may always be one of my favorites)

Pine Cone
I love the drawings I’ve done.  It’s amazing to me that I was able to create such beauty with nothing more than pencil, charcoal, and sometimes some ink.  It’s something I never knew I had inside me.

Yesterday I had a realization.

I’ve completely misunderstood creativity and in particular drawing.

I was scared on my first day of drawing class because I thought I had to produce an exact replica of the sunflower.  I took months to labor over each petal and leaf to make sure the shading was exact and matched the original as closely as possible.

Lately I’ve been having a lot of fun experimenting with ink and the paper I made.  The drawings have a somewhat primitive feeling and I can’t help but wonder if I’m discovering my style. I am really enjoying the texture and irregular shape of the paper.  It’s funny to note that what would have made an imperfect surface to write a letter made a perfect canvas for an ink drawing.

I like some better than others, but they are all unique and beautiful in their own way.  I can honestly find at least one thing I like about each one of them.

Last night I realized that drawing isn’t about reproducing an image – it’s about interpreting a moment.  It’s not about perfection, it’s about having some fun and feeling – it’s about grace.

I say grace because that’s what I feel we need to allow ourselves – and what we need to accept from others.

ink tree on handmade flax paper

sunflower on flaxk paper - ink

sunflower on flax handmade paper

tree drawn in ink on flax paper

tree and bench_flax paper and ink drawing

Honestly every time I look at a drawing, I think about what I could or should have done differently – what could have made it better.

There’s always something, but that’s where I think creativity and art is misunderstood.  It’s not about being perfect, it’s about creating, it’s about being – it’s about trying. It’s understanding that completing something even if it’s got a few flaws is all part of learning and growing and it applies to any endeavor, not just art.

Most of all it’s about having fun and enjoying life.

7 thoughts on “The Art of Creating and Misunderstanding Creating Art

  1. The parallel to writing is striking. Getting an imperfectly written story creatively flowing entirely on the paper is far more valuable than that perfectly agonized first paragraph or chapter that is left an orphan without a completed work to follow.

  2. Pulling the reins back on self-critique is one of the hardest disciplines an artist can learn. You’ve realized that Beth, and express the experience well. Sometimes we have to be adamant with that inner conflict… is it done? should I fix that?_________ It’s Done! Let that ‘moment’ be as rewarding as the creative process.

    1. Thanks Anne – it is the hardest part for sure. What I’ve also discovered is that sometimes a ‘mistake’ can actually be incorporated and can make a piece turn out even better than you originally thought it would 🙂

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