Lerri is a visual artist, specialzing in acrylics, watercolor, and pastel representations of the natural world. Here she shares some of her thoughts and tips for artists.
I am starting this “Tips” page in an effort to encourage those who visit this site whether they are artists, closet artists, wanna-be-artists or think-they-could-never-be-a-artists, to get up the courage to pick up a brush, a pencil, a piece of chalk or finger paint and get those creative juices flowing!
If you read my “About Me” page, you will see that the road for me was not an easy one. There were times when I thought that artists were born with skills magically pouring onto the canvas, or paper. I had teachers that seemed to reinforce that notion, or made it seem like only the truly gifted could understand how art is done. I knew I had an artist in me, but I just didn’t know how to get it out. That is, until I finally found a teacher who could actually teach!
I also had to learn a lot about myself. I use to be my own worst critic. Every little “flaw” I saw in my drawing or painting, I would jump all over it and tear myself down until the artist in me finally stood up and told that obnoxious voice to “Shut Up!” You probably all know that little obnoxious voice, it is the reason you don’t do your art, or why you won’t start in the first place but I’m here to help your inner artist to stand up to that voice and set itself free to create and be happy with it’s creation.
Our first lesson will be getting up your courage, giving yourself a break, and finding a class.
I have been teaching a beginning adult drawing class for a bit over a year now, and when I say beginning, I mean beginning. Adults have challenges that kids don’t have or at least don’t start out with, and their expectations of what they as adults should be creating are not in proportion to their skills. Most have not had any art training beyond what they got in grade school or maybe high school and have not done much more then doodle on paper margins when they are on the phone, yet they expect to turn out museum quality art once they decide to pick up that brush or pencil and are disappointed when their efforts fall very short of those expectations.
This is the point where most give up and say they aren’t artists and what were they thinking? To that I say: “Give yourself a break!” If you haven’t had instruction on how to get that artist out, doesn’t mean it’s not in there, it does mean that you need to find a teacher or teachers to help in that process. I encourage my students to go to several teachers because each has their own unique approach to a subject or media. You can learn something new or a different way of doing something that only having one teacher won’t give you, or a different teacher may be able to say something that will finally make sense of what another teacher was trying to tell you.
I also tell my students to remember that it is art. Regardless what anyone says, there is no right way to do art, what ever way works for you is the right way, and learning from various teachers will help you find that right way. If you have 100 artists doing the same subject, you are going to have 100 different versions of that subject and they are all the right way to handle the subject. It’s the nature of art, and its beauty.
Another thing I tell my drawing and watercolor students is that it is just a piece of paper! If you don’t like it, you can line your bird cage with it or start a fire in your fireplace or put it in the recycle (in my acrylic class, I tell them that’s why we have gesso). You aren’t going to solve world hunger, or cure cancer with your art, but you will find a good way to relax and an enjoyable hobby, maybe even a new career!
Many school districts or Parks and Rec Departments, have adult art classes. There are no grades to worry about and people - just like you - who want to learn a new skill. Also, don’t judge your art next to some one else’s just because they are in an adult class doesn’t mean they haven’t been painting for years, many of my students have been taking the same class for years because it gets them out of the house, sets aside time to paint, provides a social setting or all of the above. If you are still a bit afraid to go to a class, turn on PBS. Many stations have art programming that is a very good way to get up your courage, if they don’t, bug them until they do. You don’t even have to try it, just watch for awhile. Pay attention to what the artist is doing, how he/she is holding the brush or using the brush. You may soon find that your inner artist is begging to try what you are watching. It may take some practice, and a lot of bird cage liner but that is part of the journey.
So get up your courage, find a class, don’t expect masterpieces the first time out and enjoy your journey, you will meet a lot of nice people along the way. LP
To find out about the classes Lerri teaches through the Torrance Parks and Rec. Department, go to: http://www.tprd/torrent.com/9087.htm
Lerri is now also teaching classes at the Palos Verdes Art Center.