I want to give hope to all those people out there, who, like me, have felt, and still feel, that they don’t have an artistic bone in their body. As a kid, I used to like drawing. I drew butterflies, dogs and horses. They were all out of proportion and simple; just a kid’s drawings really. I wasn’t gifted but I had fun. When I reflect back on that time, half the fun was in day dreaming about my drawing, or starting with a blank page and just seeing where it would take me. Pencils were everywhere and anywhere, left lying around when the drawing was done. There was no packing up art supplies. There was no helicopter parent offering a critique or having special art time with me to foster my ‘creativity’, whatever that means.
Then I went to high school and I thought I would try art class as an elective. I know a lot of children thrive in art classes. But for me, it was torture. Half of the time was spent getting out all the equipment. Then there was instruction on the techniques to be practiced, the dreaded cleaning and packing up, and somehow we were meant to think of some wonderful masterpiece to create using the techniques we had just learnt all in the space of an hour. Consequently, art classes and I parted ways within about eight weeks. I was just fine with that. Phew.
My mother is such a fabulous, self-taught artist, not that she would ever see herself in the same league as the art ‘professionals’. When my mother took up painting and leadlight in the days before the internet, she would say to the grown-up me, “I am painting XYZ with blah, blah, blah. Can you picture it?” Ah no.
Also, I was in awe of my fabulous sister-in-law; style, grace, beauty and artistic talent personified. I love her dearly. Then there was me.
I truly thought that I didn’t possess an artistic bone in my body. This is why it came as such a surprise to me that I actually signed up for two short mosaic workshops at the Woodford Folk Festival, just over 10 years ago now. Why? Because tiles speak to me. They are so organic, so solid yet fluid, and they belong to the people of all ages. From Iran to Italy, from Spain to Melbourne, from inside to outside, from craft to high art, mosaics and tiles in all their various forms thrill me.
And so commenced my artistic adventure. It took time to develop my skill and my eye. I’m still learning.
I guess, dear Reader, that what I am really trying to say is that the path to being an accomplished artist is not always straightforward. Materials matter. You may need to pick the art media that suits you best. Time matters. Some people really do seem to have an innate artistic ability, but all of us need to hone our talent over time.
When I retired from my day job due to ill health, my son asked me what he should tell his friends that I did (for a living). “I’ve been telling them you’re an artist”, he told me. Ah okay.