When I was growing up, I loved art. Drawing, painting and generally making things were my favourite activites. I did ‘creative’ after school clubs in things like pottery and even origami. When I was around 11 we had a ‘careers questionnaire’ in school. We had to answer pages and pages of questions about our interests both in school and out, and weeks later we’d get back a list of suggested careers we might be interested in. The top result on mine was ‘Artist’.

But that isn’t a real career, is it?

I took art in junior high and high school, but, frankly, the teachers weren’t great. I didn’t really learn anything and instead started to feel like I was terrible at art. By the time I was about 15, I wasn’t making anything anymore. At 17, when my art teacher said ‘You can’t do an abstract painting like THAT!’, I decided that I just wasn’t a creative type after all.

Then after I left school I had a few partners who were artists and that sealed the deal: I had no artistic talent at all. The end.

The last time I sat down to try and draw anything other than stick figures with my kids was when I was 18…

Fast forward 30 years. This is a whole other blogpost (which I’ll probably never do), but I’ve been feeling rather… muzzled lately. There are many varied reasons for this, but it has caused me to hit a bit of a brick wall creatively. I’ve been sewing quite a bit which is always fun and relaxing, but I don’t feel that I express myself through sewing really.

Over the Easter holiday, one day I suddenly had a flash of inspiration: I wanted to do some art. Then I quickly reminded myself that I am rubbish at it. And THEN I thought ‘I don’t give a shit. I’m going to try.’ I just wanted to do something that could get my brain unstuck. I thought doing something new might help. So that day I signed up for a beginners’ drawing and painting course at a local college. Just one day a week, but it was something.

Immediately, I was afraid. How in the world could someone like me (ie an artistic idiot) turn up for even a beginners’ class?! I’m rubbish. I decided I’d better learn something about drawing before I started my class… I found some online tutorials and information on paper and pencils, and started learning to draw.

The first thing I did before any instruction was to draw a teacup, then hid it and didn’t look at it again until I’d gone through all of the exercises.

Then I started learning about line and tone and negative spaces and perspective. I did some shading. I always loved shading.

I found some instructions on body proportions and drawing hands and eyes.

After doing a bunch of different exercises, I tried drawing the teacup again.

It’s the same teacup.

Then I started the drawing class. We did lots of similar exercises looking at shape and tone etc. Then we had to start a self-portrait. Yikes. This put the fear in me again. I decided that I should probably practice drawing a person before I attempt a self-portrait…

I’ve been missing John Hurt. He was a friend of ours and we were so sad to lose him. I decided my first attempt at a portrait was going to be from a photo of him.

It actually looks like him. What?! I did this?! What? This must be some kind of fluke… I decided to do a new portrait. This time I took photos of the progress.

So, anyway, I guess I’m going to keep doing this for a while… at least until my brain is unstuck.


This is ‘Sarah on Newsnight’…

5 Replies to “Art”

  1. I genuinely thought I was terrible. I’d never once drawn a person that actually looked like them ever… If I do nothing else, I’m SUPER happy with my two portraits…

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