Chronicles of a Wannabe Artist – Thoughts?

As I expected, the finality has finally hit me. Only it didn’t happen after the vernissage like I thought it would but rather on Saturday morning when I didn’t hear my alarm go off. It was a weird thing to sleep in until 10 for a change instead of getting up at 8:30 to make it to class for 10. I almost thought it was Sunday and I ended up practicing for the most of the early afternoon to fill the emptiness of the missing class!

What I wanted to do in this post was to tie together all my thoughts and feelings regarding the past 10 Saturdays. So I thought it was only necessary to go back and re-read all my posts leading up to last Saturday. Upon reading I saw a lot of growth in both my drawings and in my confidence, I saw hesitation, and I saw qualities that linger still.

I remember that going into this class I had a set of expectations I wanted to meet by the end but having arrived at the end I find that not many of them were actually met. But I think that’s a good thing. I think if all my expectations had been met I might not have grown, or at least not as much as I did. I had expected to fail… miserably, but I didn’t. I expected to judged, but I wasn’t. I expected to learn too much at once, but I hadn’t, I learned exactly what I needed.

I didn’t expect to come out as the next DaVinci but I didn’t expect to learn or advance as much as I did either. I mean 10 classes of 2 hours each? How much could you really pack into such a short amount of time? (A lot apparently.) In the end I did learn to draw properly, and then some! It’s strange to draw more simply now because I can feel a shift in how I approach a drawing compared to how I did in the past. Only ten classes and I already feel what I learned working in my subconscious and coming out in something as simple as line art.

I can’t say it was all sunshine and daisies because I did have a small hiccup of confidence about midway through the semester and got flooded with a large amount of discouragement. I think I came out of it only slightly wounded but I learned from it and really that’s the best thing when you falter.

I still see that I strive for perfection and hesitate, yet at the same time I’m less intimidated about showing my work to people and no longer fear critique as much as I once did. I came to firmly realize that everyone has their own style and I will never be like my classmates and they will never be like me.

Walking through the vernissage last Friday was another kicker for me in that I saw so many pieces and no where could I find two pieces exactly the same. Even looking at my own piece I came to realize that I too had my own style. I think for the first time in a long time I was okay with that idea. I became more inspired and found myself wanting to be just like a lot of the advanced students.

If this class has taught me anything it’s confidence. Confidence in myself and what I’m capable of. I find it funny that it took something I used to hate to help me find this piece. Not only am I able to look at my art and find good aspects but I’m also able to apply this to parts of my life and find good aspects. I can find what needs to be improved and what needs fixing and I can honestly say this might be the happiest I’ve been in a long time. (Is this how the everyday happy people do it?) When it comes to art I still hesitate, I still have a lot more to learn, and I’m still at the beginning. That’s okay though, I know where I want to be and I know that with time and practice I will get there.

Losing my Second Tongue?

I don’t know if this is a saying in English but in French a literal way you could translate the word “language” could be “tongue”.

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One cool thing about me is that I understand 2 languages, French and English, and I used to proud myself in saying that I was bilingual. Nowadays, though, I feel as though I’m not as capable of saying that as I did when I was younger.

I went to a French immersion elementary school where the whole day was conducted in French up until second grade where we started to get about an hour of English lesson a day (if my memory serves me correctly). Had it not been for my parents I would have learned how to read in French before English. I did, however, learn how to write in French before English, which is kind of funny now because my writing skills are horrible.

I don’t remember a time when I couldn’t understand French; it’s just always been a part of me. Lately though, I don’t feel as confident and it both scares and saddens me. I always hated that I was forced to learn it when I was younger because I never really saw a point. My parents only spoke English and I lived in an English speaking province. Sure it is an advantage for Canadians to know both languages but as a naïve child I thought I could do better without it. That is until I moved provinces to where the main language is French and English is practically frowned upon. It became an advantage to know what people were saying around you and to not stand out as being “that English person”.

I soon grew to like the language even though my new classmates had begun pointing out my weird pronunciations and sentence structure. I quickly adopted their dialect and felt like I fit in better even though it was a bit of a struggle because I felt like I had to re-learn my second language.

I had been LOSING A PART OF ME, and I didn’t even notice

Since growing older and moving to a more bilingual city within that same French province I have pretty much given up on French for the past 4 years. I have managed to get by with taking up an English speaking job, going to an English university, having English friends, and answering sales people with “hi” instead of “bonjour” when they greet me.

It has been only recently I’ve been put into situations where I’m being forced to speak French. First it was my art classes, where in the beginning my teacher was conducting them in English but by the 6th class he pretty much switched to French. I quickly adapted and now feel relatively comfortable to converse with him in French. Second came when I went for a job interview and I stumbled through it.

On my walk home while playing back the interview in my head I felt discouraged as I realized that I was losing my French. I had been losing a part of me, and I didn’t even notice. By avoiding it I was losing it and in turn a piece of who I claimed to be.

People tell me I just need to practice and it should come back in no time considering I learned it when I was really young. But I don’t know where to start. Do I read easy books? Think more in French? Watch more French television? It’s this uncertainty that I feel is preventing me from actually starting, that and a sudden self consciousness about my dialect.

It’s a strange feeling to notice something that has always been there begin to slip away, particularly a language because they really are a part of a person. And when you do you find it slipping you suddenly want it back. French is such a beautiful language (which is sadly butchered by the dialect of this province) and is one I’m proud to say is within my repertoire.

So take it from me. If there’s something you truly love about yourself, be a language or another quality… Hold onto it, because if you let it slip you never know when you just might need it again.

Chronicles of a Wannabe Artist – Day 10

Boy, time flies! Saturday was our last class of the spring semester and I don’t think it has sunk in yet. Consciously I know I won’t be going back this weekend but a small part of me still feels like I will be. I think it will sink in more after the vernissage on Friday which is when I plan to do a wrap up post about the class and my feelings.

Saturday was exactly what I have been wanting from these classes. Our teacher had put out a display of pieces and instructed us to draw whatever part or object from the setup. And if we  felt really adventurous then we could try for the whole display (but I don’t think anyone did in the end). A two hours well spent in my opinion!

The point of the last class was to tie everything we had learned together into one piece. The main focus of the class (as I’m sure you could tell if you have been keeping up with this series) was the human figure and so the majority of the pieces in front of us were human figures. I could only assume he was hoping we would choose those to draw… I drew the bottle.

I have got to say though I’m quite proud of it. I had ambitiously set out to draw the bottle as a side thing next to the female statue but struggled too much with the outline for the bottle that I didn’t have time for her in the end. All the same, I (with a little help) managed to produce a pretty stellar looking bottle!

I wish I could have included it in this post but it was taken from me so that it could be showcased in the vernissage. A somewhat nerve wracking idea for me since I’m utterly terrified of showing my art to anyone but I think it’s also an exciting idea.

When I was done  I sat there looking at it and I couldn’t help but feel proud of myself. “I did that!” is what I thought to myself. A feat I never thought I would be able to accomplish. In that final image alone I could feel these 9 weeks of learning and it made me happy. This class allowed me to see that as long as I keep pushing myself I’m capable of a lot more than what I give myself credit for.

Just let it Happen

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Everyone has bad days but for me when it comes to waking up on the wrong side of the bed I tend to handle it really poorly, and I mean really poorly. I’m mad at everything and everyone and it’s always best just to avoid me to. But there’s one person who doesn’t hide from me and that would be my boyfriend.

If I wake up in a bad mood and stay in a bad mood I get really snippy and I give up on any hope on what I had for the day and sit on my computer. Even if it’s only 2 o’clock in the afternoon my mind decides that the day can’t be fixed. Thankfully I managed to land someone who is a lot more optimistic and hates seeing me so sad and gives it his everything to help me fix it. I love him.

Yesterday I woke up sad and grouchy and after having lied in bed for an hour, eaten, and showered for half an hour I still didn’t feel any better and I gave up on the day at only 1 in the afternoon. After a lot of refusing (and slight annoyance at slightly matching), my boyfriend finally managed to convince me to go outside and walk with him. No need of destination, who cares if it rains, and fuck the time.

Normally I have a hard time with spontaneity and not knowing where I’m going but I’m slowly opening up to the idea of it. Looking back on days like yesterday I realize how caught up I am in needing things to be orderly and planned when details aren’t always necessary. Sometimes the unplanned can be a lot more fulfilling than the planned.

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In the end I did feel better and in the end it did rain but I was okay with that. We had walked to the local mall, ate noms, bought Laura Secord chocolate, and just wandered!

On the way back we did get caught in the rain with no umbrella and at first I started feeling miserable about it. I started worrying about how much he hates wet socks, and how I had a white shirt on, and how my hair had JUST finished drying. Then he looked at me smiling while shaking his head and said “just let it happen”. I thought for a moment, and then I did. I just. Let. It. Happen. I let the rain soak through my hair and my clothes and it felt so goddamn good.

I ran out into the open space under the rain and let the world happen. Behind me I could hear him laughing and calling me silly and I laughed with him. In the pouring rain I let the world happen. I loved how much we accidentally matched and I laughed at how we tried so hard to beat the rain only to end up getting caught in it.

What I think I’m trying to say is that when the world has got you down you just have to let it happen. You can plan all you want but sometimes you get caught in the rain without an umbrella and there’s nothing you can do except get rained on.

Chronicles of a Wannabe Artist – Day 9

It was the second to last class yesterday and I’m going to be honest and say that I have been slacking in the practicing department and I definitely felt it. I spent most of the class beating myself up for it which probably didn’t help because I started hesitating again and trying too hard to make up for lost practice. I definitely see why so many artists tell me that the only way to get better is not to stop otherwise you lose everything you have worked up to.

I’m kind of disappointed in myself for slacking considering I’m nearing the end of the course and I wanted to make use of all the time I have to continue to improve. In the end I’m a little nervous because we are expected to bring everything we have learned throughout the class together into one final drawing. I want to put everything I have into it and make it my best work but I’m scared that my slacking will set me back.

I’m trying not to be too discouraged and have simply vouched to practice every day starting yesterday. I know it will come back to me again in due time and I’ll continue to improve again I just find myself quickly getting frustrated when things don’t look right. I know doing that just makes things worse but when I’m under pressure (no matter what it is) I always expect more out of myself than what I’m (probably) capable of. I need to remember that I am still learning and that I am doing a lot better than when I first started so it’s not as if I’m not improving. Everything with time.

See you Saturday!

The Summer List

9556 sgI think I’m a person of seasons, meaning that depending on whether it’s warm or cold outside my mood and personality shift. Winter is the quiet but restless feeling of staying indoors, spring is the excitement for everything to live once more, summer is the calm and the free, and fall is the return to routine. In these feelings I act grumpy, then hopeful and giddy, then carefree, and then relaxed but disciplined.

Summer has always had a sort of magical feel to it ever since I could remember, maybe it’s the weather or maybe it’s the countless lazy days that accompany me for weeks. I love feeling the sun on my skin, walking in the rain on a hot day, laughing, relaxing, living… I was always afraid of getting older in fear that these feelings would change or fade because of the responsibilities that came with being an adult but they didn’t; they are still there.

I know that the official first day of summer isn’t for another couple of weeks but the weather is starting to tell me otherwise. The days are longer, the air is thicker, and the nights are deeper. In spirit of it all I have decided to do something motivational that will make this summer different than my others.

If you have read some of my older posts you will have seen that I made a list in the fall that involved doing fall inspired things. I had mentioned that I wanted to do one for every season but seemed to have skipped winter and spring (I blame university). I decided that if there was any season that I wanted to make sure I did it was summer.

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When making this list I wanted to make them more personal while also remaining fun. Like I mentioned, summer feels more calm and carefree so I wanted the list to also reflect that. Too often I find myself wrapped in countless worries of anything that’s thrown my way and tend to find myself burning out a lot and quickly. I’m in a constant state of what my dad likes to call “a full cup”. I don’t like this state and don’t want to spend my summer with that feeling and have decided to change it.

And so the summer list was born! Looking at it it might seem vague but really that’s the point seeing as it’s a personal one but I still wanted to share it so I’ll explain it generally.

  • Walk, Learn something, write inspirationally, improve languages, and create more. These are things that I classify as “actively doing” because they are stimulating in the creative sense while also being calming. During school I often find I don’t have time to do a lot of these things or at least do a lot of these things for myself and not for assignments.
  • Explore the new and the old, focus myself, adventure the unkown. Like I said, I wanted to help with my full cup problem so I chose specific focuses for myself. If you have been reading my “Chronicles of a wannabe artist” then you will see that even in fun I hesitate and worry. These three points are targeted to help me to try and relieve some of that.

Looking at it now I feel inspired, excited, and scared all at once. A part of me says I’m way too ambitious while another part of me is reminding me that I don’t have to complete or change everything by the end of the summer. For now I will just take every day as it comes.

Chronicles of a Wannabe Artist – Day 8

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Yesterday’s class was one I found to be a calm and relaxing one. Normally I feel nervous upon applying something newly learned to paper as I’m sure you might have noticed if you have read my other posts but yesterday I barely felt the time passing. I think I can speak for everyone when I say that we have all finally sunk into the swing of the class and it has become more routine now. Teacher talks, model gets into position, draw. I’m by no means saying it has become boring but more that we have found our flow and are settling into it. It probably has to do with the fact that we are nearing the end of our “semester” so I think now we are just tying up the final ends.

It makes me sad to know it’s almost over and even sadder to know I might not be able to take another class at the school this summer but I’m looking forward to seeing what I’m capable of at the end of it. Even just yesterday I could feel a slight difference in my drawing particularly in my speed. We were to focus on shadowing our figure and I found myself not spending as much time on the building of the outline of the body as I used to. I think this is because I realized that, although it’s still relatively new to me, shadowing helps to give the mass of your figure and you can fill in its shape later.

It’s tempting to look back to the beginning now to see how much I have improved but I really want to save that for the last class. For now, I will try and focus on the pointers I have been given in order to improve because there’s always room for more improvement. For me it’s to stop hesitating and to stop thinking so much as well as not using so many lines! If I can just improve on these points then I’m sure I will feel even more of an improvement by the end of it.

With this new feeling of improvement I do plan on continuing practicing, new class or not. Like I previously mentioned I hardly felt the time passing and was shocked when I found out it was 12 o’clock and the class was over. It’s been a while since I have had this feeling and I can honestly say that it’s refreshing. You don’t realize how much you miss something until it happens again.

See you next Saturday!

Chronicles of a Wannabe Artist – Day 7

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I’m finding that every time something new is introduced in the class I get somewhat nervous because I feel like I won’t catch on as fast with things as my classmates. When I look around I always feel like they get it from the first time but I feel like it takes me longer. I’m excited when we move on to the next new thing but at the same time it feels a little fast for me and I feel like I fall behind.

Saturday was learning how to apply shadows and at first I was excited but as we actually started doing it I started to feel more and more unsure of myself again. I don’t really know what it is exactly, maybe it’s the perfection in me, maybe it’s afraid of being laughed at for trying, either way I hate how much it comes between me and being able to try. I want to stop being afraid of trying, I mean that’s part of the reason I decided to take the class in the first place; to try something new. I only have 3 more classes left and I sure as hell do not want to let them go to waste.

When I think back to it and try my hand again at what I learned on Saturday, it doesn’t seem that difficult or that intimidating. I’m not saying I got it down pat but I’m slowing getting the hang of it more than I felt I was when it was introduced on Saturday. I know that everyone learns things at different speeds so sure photography came to me quickly but maybe art is something I have to spend more time on. If that’s all it is I can manage that maybe I won’t like it too much, but I’m not one who is willing to give up on things.

See you on Saturday!