As in Art, So in Life

March 31, 2014

As I mentioned in “Hello Sketchbook, My Old Friend,” I’ve been taking Laure Ferlita’s An Imaginary Visit to a Past Vacation class. Not for the first time, I noticed I’m learning more in art class than simply how to sketch—I’m learning lessons that easily expand beyond the art studio. As in art, so in life:

Preparation makes everything easier… Laure encouraged us to do thumbnails (quick sketches in a junk journal to figure out placement of images and lettering).  Before starting a sketch, I made sure I had my palette, full waterbrushes, paper towels and tissues, my color chart, my reference photos, and a scrap piece of watercolor paper if I needed a quick color check. Once I started, I didn’t want to have to stop to hunt something down. This is also a good way to approach new projects and experiences: figure out what resources you need to have before you get started so that you can proceed smoothly.

…but sooner or later, I have to start. I sometimes let myself get stuck in preparation mode, forever putting off action. Facing a blank page in my sketchbook feels remarkably like facing decisions or starting major projects. Once that first mark hits the page—or I take that first action—I usually relax and can continue without too much fuss and bother.

I’m often my harshest critic. I was pretty happy with my sketches in this class, but in previous classes, I have been frankly embarrassed to share my work. I could see only the flaws in it, how it wasn’t what I wanted it to be, and how (I felt) it wasn’t as good as everyone else’s. My fellow classmates always found something good to say, and ways to encourage me not to give up. When I comment on my classmates’ art, I always look for something specific that I like about it, and I can always find it. I should be so generous with myself! I have a feeling my art isn’t the only area where I’m much harder on myself than is necessary.

As always, I had a great time in Laure’s class, and was able to take away more than just the beginnings of a new sketchbook. I still have one more assignment to complete, so excuse me while I get ready, get started, and ease up on myself. 

So what have you been up to lately?

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  1. Great post and great takeaways! We are definitely are own worst critics and if it's not fun, why are we doing it in the first place?!

    Me? I'm building web sites and classes and trips and doing laundry and cleaning up after cats and buying groceries and lots of mundane stuff like that.

    I did have a (stressful) play day on Friday that eventually turned out well. I think maybe I'm gonna run away to the beach again! Wanna come?

  2. I always enjoy reading your "lessons." You've got some very good ones here.

    I wanted to take that class, but I'm taking a quilting class that's been taking up a lot of my time, and we're traveling at the moment as well, so I knew I wouldn't be able to devote the time to it. But I'm glad you're enjoying the class.

  3. Wonderful post. I have enjoyed traveling with you on trips with Laure. You always do wonderful work and I enjoy all of your insightful post on this blog.
    I too am my worst critic, but Laure's classes and classmates have really helped me find at least a few positive things about my sketches that I like. The first couple of class with Laure, I didn't post very often. I was just too embarrassed too. I think our artful soul all too often gets squashed in our very early school days. Are you going to New Zealand with us?

  4. Laure--Sounds like you are busy having adventures and learning things, and getting things done.

    I might want to join you at the long as I don't have to put on my bathing suit! I don't know if I'm quite ready for that yet

  5. Thanks, Cheryl. I miss you in class, but sounds like you are quite busy at the moment. I look forward to what you're doing in your quilting class--I love your beautiful quilts.

  6. Clare--Thanks so much for your kind comments! It is always a pleasure to travel with Laure and her classes. I've found them very encouraging. Even though I'm sometimes embarrassed to post, I tell myself that I will only get better if I keep trying, and if I learn from feedback. Everyone has been so kind and generous it keeps me coming back.

    I won't be going to New Zealand this time, unfortunately. When do you leave? :)

  7. We left for NZ yesterday and will be traveling until May 6. There's another trip to England. ;-)

  8. Hope you have a great time in New Zealand, Clare! Oh, to be in England...