Returning to the Artsy Basics

As a kid, as many kids, I was super crafty. I particularly liked making posters by attaching construction paper with drawings or cut outs almost as good as my drawings to make an even bigger view. I was one of those kids the art teachers favored. I was very good for my age.

But beyond elementary school, I didn’t practice. I didn’t have the patience and I didn’t have the classes to force me to keep at it. Since my interests lied in learning about the natural world–the sciences–I by and large considered my artistic talents as useless. Meanwhile I struggled to master technical subjects like chemistry and math. My interests and my talented didn’t particularly align. Drat.

Pine Cone: Stage 4 (final)
My local library has a book on botanical portraits in colored pencil. The first exercise though was in graphite. You know what? I vaguely remember having to do a graphite pine cone in my high school studio art class as an exercise before attempting a large drawing.

As my neuropathy began to take a toll on my muscular strength (at times there’s no electrical signal to tell my muscles what to do and with how much effort), I couldn’t hold my camera up well. I’d shake or I’d have a limited time to get it right before my muscles burned, leading to week-long cramps. My longer lens, the 55-300mm was the biggest problem. Squatting to the right height for the ideal angle of view was another–and then those muscles would fail. Sometimes I’d just sit for 30 seconds before trying to stand.

Having the patience to sit at home in a comfy spot to draw or paint became the enabling alternative.

If only I’d practiced in the last 15 years, haha!

Watercolor Barn: "Before" and ...
First watercolor since my high school class (where I did one, and that was the first since maybe 2nd grade), and I followed a tutorial on YouTube. However, I did a different barn style, added different species of grasses, larger mountains, more trees, more foreground,and the rabbit. Ah, deviation!

On the plus side, art is “like riding a bike” or “like riding a horse” (frankly, I disagree with these sayings, but they get the point across). Whatever skill level I was at in elementary school was still there during that one semester-long high school course I took. Whatever improvements I had then I carry now.

Bearded Iris: Stage Two (graphite)
Step 2 for a bearded iris tutorial in a botanical portraiture book: gray scale shading. I also learned that I should be more aggressive with sharpening my pencils. They may break, but I need a fine line!

Consider this post’s childlike (teenager like?) images my “before” images–my skill level when I started, finally, to practice art.

With box-kit and left over student grade supplies…. Yeah, I know first hand now what you can’t do with student grade equipment. But instead of just hearing about and watching on YouTube the differences between student and artist grade tools I appreciate feeling and seeing the differences myself.

For perks, my high school graphite drawing of my horse taking a nap 🙂

An emblem of my high school fine arts requirement, somehow this graphite drawing is the only artwork to survive the passage of time.

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