As soon as I set foot under the canopy of trees, it felt like the sound had been muted on the world. Even the dripping of the rain was muffled by the umbrella of branches stretching out above me. It seemed a bit lackluster for the start of an adventure, though I wasn’t entirely sure what I had been expecting. I followed the meandering trail further into the growing gloom, steady in my stride. After all of the tales I had heard about these woods, I had expected a goblin or ghost to charge at me from the underbrush. But all was quiet. Was it perhaps too quiet? I kept moving, uneasy in my surroundings, wishing that I were back at the inn with it’s cracking fire and roasting meats. And yet I continued on, putting one foot in front of the other as my mind wandered between the place I had left and where I intended to go.
Writing has always been my sunshine, my sustenance, my personal cup of tea, if you will. It is my soul, my blood, the thing that makes me who I am. I have always felt my most creative when I’m crafting syllables and etching letters onto blank pages. And yet, I’ve always wanted to explore beyond my literary confinements. I love to create, to make new, to bring to life a vision that has been hidden behind my eyes. I’ve dabbled with different arts, but always found myself frustrated because my hands often struggled to take my mental image and translate it into the physical world. I knew what I wanted to create, but I couldn’t for the life of me figure out how to bring it into being. I’ve never been able to fully give up on this hope, to surrender this dream. So here I stand again, giving it one more shot, slowing down the process in hopes that I will actually learn from my past mistakes.
Meandering into the art world is a bit overwhelming. Primarily because there are so many different facets and tools to use, so many different concepts to contemplate and master. For a novice it is a lot to wrap your brain around. Where on earth do you start? Graphite, charcoal, acrylic, watercolor, digital, oil, colored pencils, spray paint. Do you want to layer, cross hatch, work with negative spaces? And then do you want realistic, modern, impression, abstract, expressionism, cubism, surreal, compounded by a variety of cultural interpretations. Where oh where do you begin? And that is just one tiny aspect of the art world- I’m setting aside things like pottery, fabric, sculpting, glass, sand, etc. for the moment. That’s a rabbit hole we will be slowly making our way to. Personally, I want to dabble in all of it- figure out what feels right to me. So where I start is perhaps less important than how I start.
Aside from the occasional wine painting parties, I haven’t taken a true and honest art class since middle school (and no, I’m not going to do the math on that one- suffice it to say it was a long time ago). I tend to be more of a doodler, playing with mandalas more than actual sketches. But the few times I do paint or draw, I enjoy myself. And when I get direction, I’m not supremely awful- I have a Christmas painting I did on a wine night with my mom and aunt that I still hang up every winter on a wall that real people can actually see. Shocking, I know.
If I were a better planner I would be coming into this with an actual detailed lesson plan. But at the moment I don’t know what I don’t know. So for now, I have a general thumb-sketch idea of what I am looking for, but I’m giving myself a lot of latitude to play around. The jury is still out on whether this is a good idea or not, but short of spending a few hundred dollars on an art class, this is where I plan to start. I’ve got some books and videos on the fundamentals, I might invest in a few of the (cheaper) classes you can find online. If you have anyone you follow (or are an artist yourself), please leave recommendations below- I could use all the help I can get. But fear not, my dear adventurers, I do have an ace in my pocket. I have an amazingly talented coworker who plays with most medium- she’s been kind enough to help me play with watercolors over our lunch break (when we both manage to get one at the same time). Now, I will admit, I am not always the best student- immediately after her quick color theory tutorial, I proceeded to create the most hideous accidental brown you could imagine. I am a trial-by-error student, it would seem.
As we move farther into our quest, we find ourselves in territory we may not recognize. It will be a bit uncomfortable at times, perhaps a tad frustrating when we move away from the avenues we are so accustomed to walking. But fear not, these forests are beautiful and worthy of exploring.
- Draw/paint the forest we are beginning to walk through- be creative, what colors do you see, are there animals, shady patches
- Draw your little adventurer embarking on the jouney
- Draw your muse- what is she made of? Will she be changing as we move through these new challenges?
- Pick up a color book or paint by number and let your brain relax if it all feels a bit overwhelming