Sunday, February 8, 2009

Back to School

This year marks the 25th anniversary of my high school graduation. Yikes - a quarter century ago! There must be a typo in there somewhere.

When I was approaching graduation people were constantly in my ear saying, "your art is so good, you should go to Emily Carr" or "you have to go to Emily Carr" and so on. And I'd respond, "but have you seen what's out there? I'm not that good."

Emily Carr University of Art is a prestigious art school here on the Canadian West Coast. I would have loved to have gone and earned a degree in fine art there, and had considered it, but there was the issue of the juried acceptance into the school... and my aversion to doing what everyone told me to do... and not feeling that I was good enough... and having no confidence in my natural talent... Oh yeah, I had a lot of excuses not to go, all of which were silly but legitimate at the time. What it really came down to was a fear of my own talent. What if I wasn't good enough?

Art is such a personal thing to me - to every artist. Its my private place to breathe and dream and heal, to wander outside myself and simply be. To let it out into the world was to expose myself to its criticisms and rejections. At eighteen years old, that was the last thing I wanted to do.

So instead of going to Emily Carr and getting a degree in fine art, I studied criminology and then took off for California to be a rock star, but ended up spending the next twenty years working in the graphic design field. I kept drawing all the way along, but only here and there as the urge struck - no real focus at all - until the last few years.

Now that I'm a little older and wiser (one would hope!) I feel a deep need to truly follow my art to its fullest potential. It's what I was always meant to do. Its like finally realizing you can't fight curly hair. Life gets easier when you stop fighting it. I guess I just had to get everything else out of my system to see that clearly.

Other than art classes in high school I'm basically self-taught. I felt I needed to study the foundation of traditional techniques in order to further develop my talents and define my own personal style.

So, a quarter century later, I am finally now getting a chance to go to Emily Carr through their continuing studies program. I was so excited I went through the Spring Course Catalogue and checked off more classes than I could possibly afford to take all at once. My first course is Traditional Drawing Techniques. The fact that the course description offered learning through "historical review and practice with techniques applied since the Renaissance" intrigued me.

Yesterday was my first class and I loved it! I found however, that the historical aspect was most intriguing to me. We didn't create any masterpieces in our first class, but that wasn't the goal. The first goal was to learn to let go of the fear through a series of very loose and fast exercises in form and composition. It was fun for me - someone who is very detail-driven - to cut lose and simply draw. The chair was simply shape. Nothing more.

And I have homework! I'm not sure I've ever been excited about homework before. Our first homework assignment is to "take a walk with line". We have to do six compositional line drawings without detail or tone maintaining a consistent theme. Yikes, no detail and tone?! It will be a fun challenge for me to stop at the line drawing and not go all out. I'm not sure what my theme is just yet. I might wait and see what the next "Breed of the Week" is and do two challenges in one. Either way, I will most likely post my homework at the end of the week. If I feel confident enough to let a simple line drawing out of the safe confines of my sketchbook. ;-)

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