Follow a beginner on their journey through the foundation course.
“If you hear a voice within you say ‘you cannot paint’, then by all means paint, and that voice will be silenced.” Vincent van Gogh
Wheat field with Cypresses, Vincent Van Gogh
Distance and time have served me well. I have regained composure and begin class in combative mood. There are those who tread too cautiously and cling too closely to the rules and there are those who embark on everything with reckless abandon. I fall into the former and, to this extent, am my own worst enemy because I prefer to beat myself up over the small faults rather than pushing through. But there come a point at which you must commit and take risk in order to improve.
So this week I adopt a different approach: I will drive swiftly through the four stages, from boxes to shadow shapes, without too much pause for thought. Having completed the study I will then be able to evaluate my weaknesses in context and understand where to focus my energies.
I tape the paper to the board, dispel any idea of a small study: one cast, the whole piece of paper, no holding back. I am working in two values – all or nothing. It is liberating and exciting and I am impatient to meet the challenge. In this frame of mind momentum builds quickly, my out stretched arm beats time from the shoulder and conducts precise but sweeping lines of charcoal across the page. Perhaps the gesture is not quite right and my rendition does not do justice to the smooth, ethereal beauty of the subject but there is progress nonetheless and so much more pleasure!
Ann often says that an experienced artist uses many different skills and techniques simultaneously where as a learner takes them one at a time. Then there comes the moment when you are ready to bring them together; at first stumbling and then through trial and error the skills are sharpened, personal style emerges and with that the confidence to stand back, admire the view and yet continue to ask more of yourself. I have a way to go but for now I get it.
I feel more resilient after a satisfying session and stride with purpose across the car park. At the far end I pass a student thumbing a cigarette anxiously; I see in his face the same anguish I experienced seven days ago. Yours too shall pass, I think to myself, but it is easier said than believed.