So why do some people still believe in this theory? It doesn’t help when we have those daft click-bait “tests” on Facebook which are usually along the lines of “Are you more a left-brained or right-brained thinker? Take the test here!” Or “What colour is your aura? Click here to find out!” Those tests are based on accurate and approved studies, right?! Hmm... maybe not.
Another reason why we feel ashamed of our artistic abilities is down to education. We’re not totally against the education system here; Northern Ireland are always near the top of the board when it comes to results, so we’re obviously good at churning out young people who are skilled in memorizing standardized information, but when it comes to the arts the education system could really do with a shakeup.
From the age of 4 we’re plonked onto the conveyor belt. We start out in nursery with colourful scribbles, and you bring them home to your mum and of course she’s over the moon with the psychedelic spidery scrawls you drew for her, and it goes straight on the fridge. When you’re small you can get away with purple cats and dinosaur-people hybrids, but as we get older these drawings become seldom seen. Why? The generic house design in primary school is a pitched roof and 4 windows: is this a coincidence? Why not a house with a slide where the stairs should be or spotty outside walls? Because it’s deemed as being “incorrect.”
I (Jenn) can remember when I was around 5 or 6 years old, it was coming up to Christmas time and we were making paper angels in school to hang on the tree. The teacher had made the body out of white paper and folded it into a cone shape, the face was a circle stuck on the front, and then she used glittery pipe cleaners for the wings (a pretty neat little craft idea actually!) As they were being handed out, I noticed the crayon trays had been left on our tables and there was glue and glitter as well. Putting two-and-two together I automatically assumed that we were going to colour our angels in and get messy with some PVA and sparkles. Brill! As soon as I was handed my angel I was away like the clappers, my tongue hanging out for improved concentration. I had the rosy cheeks done and the dress was getting all sorts of mad patterns, and before I knew it I was getting the face chewed off me for colouring my angel in. Because obviously real angels don’t have colourful dresses. #AreYouSerious
“The creative adult is the child who survived.”
Ursula K Le Guin.
Secondary school is where art is no longer about artistic flare; it’s about ticking the boxes to get the grades you want. You have to follow a theme, you have to show that you can use a wide range of media, you have to display a variety of skills such as illustration, paint techniques, and textiles, and you have to produce both 2D and 3D final pieces.
What I found frustrating about art was that I loved it, but I loved doing what I was comfortable with, and hated being forced to use other media which I knew I wasn’t very good at. During coursework everyone was still made to try acrylics, which I never was able to get the hang of, as well as sewing, which was alien to me. I never liked to show my artwork, or even draw or paint in front of people, because being made to try other mediums meant I wasn’t happy with some of the work I produced and I was too ashamed to let people see my sketchbook. Why can’t students be allowed to work within mediums that they are capable and comfortable using? Obviously confidence is a big thing for an artist, so why not let them work with techniques they have confidence in and concentrate on their strengths rather than their weaknesses?
It’s all about practice too. Some of us just ooze artistic talent, but practice makes perfect. It’s a well-studied fact that if you put in 10,000 hours (around 10 years) of dedicated practice you’ll be an expert in your chosen field, and this has been proven across the board with sport stars, writers, chess champions… the list goes on. You can’t claim to have mastered your chosen discipline until you’ve put your 10,000 hours in, but obviously because art is so subjective some people will “make it” much sooner than others.
Last week we posted on our Facebook page about one of our regular customers Paul, who was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease in 2010. His neurologist told him that some people with Parkinson’s can develop an artistic talent, so with no previous artistic inclination whatsoever he decided to give it a go. To his amazement, Paul discovered that while drawing, his shakes disappeared. Parkinson’s medication can also cause insomnia, so Paul uses this time to practice and will often draw through the night. He begins by doodling on a scrap of paper; this gets his tremors to calm down before he continues with the piece he is currently working on.
This guy doesn’t come from an artistic background and has had zero training, but after a year and a half of dedicated practice he has been able to sell his work at auction for £400. Every time he comes into the shop we can see a massive improvement in his drawings and it’s so good to see him going from strength to strength. You can check out his artwork on his Facebook page: www.facebook.com/aaronpaulart
If you’ve already given it a go previously and decided it’s not for you, then why not try the adult colouring books? We have a selection of them in the shop and the pictures and patterns are gorgeous. It’s fun, relaxing, and everyone can colour in, so why not give it a go?!
(Below is an airbrush painting I did on a metal sheet when I was learning the ropes.)
If that all sounds like a bit too much effort, start small. Pinterest is bursting with simple, creative, and fun craftiness. I guarantee you’ll find something on there that you’ll want to try out, and you’ll have the ability to make it. Swear on my hair! It could be writing, baking, cooking, gardening, making, colouring, drawing, painting, sewing or knitting. There’s something out there for everyone, you just have to find it.
Just to clarify, people ask us all the time if we’re artists, and the answer is yes we are, just not in the conventional way. Where’s the fun in conventional anyway?!
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