Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Art. It does a brain good. (Releasing my inner artist.)

When (and where) I went to school, Art was a part of the curriculum, considered just as essential as English, Math, Science, History (or Social Studies), learning a second (or third) language, and Physical Education (aka Gym). Even at my tiny all-girls high school, they made time for Art (drawing, painting, pottery, etc.), if not every day, every other day. For which I am eternally grateful.

The Art room was a haven for many of us. There we could, for a little while, forget about the stress of Physics, or Chemistry, or Pre-Calc, or college applications -- and explore and enjoy our creative side.

How sad that over the years so many high schools have cut funding for the arts -- or no longer require students to take an art class. And how sad is it that so many of us who loved drawing or painting or doing pottery as kids no longer have the time or energy to do it as adults?

True, drawing and/or painting require a lot of time -- and patience. Things that we working parents typically don't have a lot of.

And why draw or paint when there are digital cameras or smart phones? Who needs a portrait when you can take a selfie?

Apparently, I do.

Last year, feeling incredibly frustrated with work and my life, I signed up for a beginner drawing class, though our adult continuing education program. Not having drawn anything, except doodles and birthday cards, for over 20 years, I was often frustrated. But I didn't drop out. (Though I did take a break from drawing when the class ended.)

However, I soon realized, I missed drawing. So this fall, I decided to take another drawing class, with the same teacher, a wonderful woman named Martha.

While drawing may not be as difficult as Physics, or Chemistry, or Pre-Calc (at least to me), it still requires an immense amount of concentration, patience, and practice. Things I don't have in abundance (if at all).

But when I am sitting in that window-filled, sun-drenched classroom, with my big pad of paper and my pencils and eraser, struggling to capture the image in front of me (inwardly, and outwardly, cursing), something amazing happens. Suddenly, I forget about everything else -- the boiler that's not working; the oven that has to be fixed; work; laundry; bills. And I am just in the moment.

Best of all, at the end of the day (or class), I have something to show for my efforts. Something I have made with my own two hands, that I can look at and say, "wow, I did this," and feel good about myself.

Art. It does a brain good.

Following are some of my favorite drawings from my Studio Art class. Next up: Colored Pencil Drawing.


"Flower Child"


"Bust of David"

"Lady Slipper Orchids"

"Still Life with Mason Jar"



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