Friday, February 27, 2009

The Over Coffee idea fairy

About a week back, I read 'Coloring a Pencil Drawing in Painter X', at Over Coffee, Barb Hartsook's blog. Two questions, or rather one question and one statement, almost off handedly made, caught my heart. This post is about them.

I carried my pencils and large drawing pad into the newly-formed “Sketching Sessions” class five minutes late and was told to sit anywhere and draw something.... Big arm movements, he instructed. Hand and arm off the table, he said.... I ended up standing most of the two hours. (Have you ever tried to draw big arm movements sitting down?)

Have you? Are you an artist, or perhaps aspiring to be one? Or maybe you have nothing to do with art whatsoever, but like to look at it? Or, even, mayhaps you don't like to look at 'ART'? Nevertheless, I still challenge you to pin up a paper, a large paper on the wall and draw, moving with your arms, not fingers. The very idea of it frightens me, for I know how circumscribed my doodles are: on tiny little margins, squeezed against phone numbers and sundry information on notepads. Whatever drawing I did was basic school grade, and I do mean basic, and although I have dabbled in photo-art since, it is not the same. If I was given a piece of canvas, and the sudden unconstrained ability to draw, I would still be making small sketches, finely detailed but - restricted. The idea of drawing from my shoulder rather than the wrist seems uplifting and freeing, utterly fascinating, and frightful, like the prospect of vast skies may seem to the caged budgie. But that is what art is about - about letting our restrictions go, about freeing ourselves from the boundaries we have created. But do you know the most terrible thing about these boundaries? When they are left unchallenged, they shrink with age, constrict us even more. Even a decade ago, perhaps, given a large paper, I would have had grander visions than I do now. On the rare occassions I have set up a proper painting session for my little one, I have been surprised at the free shoulder movements, the easy mid-brush grip like of a painter, the strength of the brush marks. And when I try? Trite little landscape scenes, or maybe faces, or cartoonish illustrations. Till I read this post of Barb's, I was at a loss to explain, even recognize my own caging, but that one little question at once showed me what was happening here, and the solution. It is as simple as a paper on the wall....

Part II

Thanks so much for stopping by. If you’d like to comment and leave a link to your work, I’d love to see it. Or maybe you’re taking a life-learning class of some kind. Please tell us about what you’re learning.

A life -learning class! Aren't we all taking one, all the time? Such a beautiful way of thinking about the lessons we learn from our life day after day. Each exam we take strengthens us for the next; there are revisions and new lesson plans; there are rewards and promotions, even failures. It is just that it never ends, this learning. And isn't that a great thing? That it is possible to keep on learning as long as you live - and perhaps beyond? That learning doesn't have to end just because you are out of school, of college, or vocational refresher courses? That learning is not all book bound, not at all limited to what others can show you in one way or another... The class doesn't end, ever, at any time: there is no limit to the amount you can grow. You still have to work at it though...

So, what have I learnt? What is my life-learning class now?

There are so many that I hardly know where to begin. Today, this moment, stolen from my baby's sleep time, I remember the lesson I was taught yesterday, when the weight of cleaning, cooking, washing, dusting, bathing, feeding, and folding, and such tasks took me so far away from my child that there were many teary requests for hugs when I couldn't take the time for them. And so, in the evening, came the retaliation when visiting grandparents - "I want to live here! I don't want to go back!" Of course, even mummy must stay, but the point was clear. A clean house is great to look at, but a fun house is better, and a loving house the best. Point taken, little darling! And yet, I still need many revisions before I am fit for the exams...

P.S.I would like to make this a tag game, the Over Coffee tag, but because I don't have many readers, and even fewer readers who comment, and because I don't like to tag someone not knowing if they are interested or not, I would like to make it open ended. Ponder and post if you wish, or just ponder. But it would be lovely if you were to post about it further and let us know :)

P.P.S. Where do you get your ideas from? Richard Bach in his novel, One, talks of the idea fairy who makes these huge blocks in her factory, of crystal clearer than daylight, stronger than steel, its planes and angles hardly visible save for the 'sparkling fascination'. And within, ideas made visible, each connection, each ramification there for you to follow should you have the inclination.Whether or not you agree with him, or love or hate his ideology, there is no denying that this is such a lovely way of looking at ideas. I love the idea of a cute as a button, ever charming idea fairy nudging us in the supermarket checkout queue, whispering in our ears as we struggle towards consciousness in those early coffee-less hours of the morning, banging on our heads through some blog we read...

P.P.P.S. Nap time is over, and my lap is in demand. The second part of this post - the 'real' one, shall have to wait, sorry!

A real P.S. this time - do check out the beautiful painting on Barb's post: click on it to see a full size image for full viewing pleasure!


Barb Hartsook said...

Swati, this post blew me away. You are a writer! I've printed it out to savor (again) over coffee later in the day. Reading time at the coffee shop. :) And I'm going to announce it in Facebook and Twitter.

Outstanding post! More later.......

Barb Hartsook said...

Oh yes -- I posted a link to this article on my blogger blog. :)

Anonymous said...

Hi, I came over from reading the three fears post at Over Coffee. I agree with you, Barb really seems to be a sort of radio whose current station is playing all the hits, where those of us feeling a bit stuck in our progression are concerned. Your comment was wonderfully phrased and I had to come over and read the post
I'm with Barb, you write wonderfully!
And just think, once you get the paper on the wall techniques under your belt, you can take the paper down and try a mural!

I my self am working on all three of Barb's listed fears. I'm good at them, too. But life is making it very hard not to be, so I'm guessing my life lesson currently is to let go of ambitions.
I'm stubbornly refusing, so far, so I'm getting lousy grades,lol.
I enjoyed your post,in both concept and execution, thanks!

Swati said...

Barb and Pete, I am honored by your generous comments. Thank you!

Karin said...

Hi Swati, I found you via Barb's blog, and she is right! This is such a thoughtful post, and well written. I love how you took two small paragraphs and went so deeply with them, revealing much about yourself while prompting me to think about my art process as well. Interestingly enough, I've been standing to paint the past week, though I am still working in a small format, it has made me work more loosely. (have been recovering from back surgery, so have some limitations still) Just the upright position has helped me to free up my body more and opens me. I look forward to really being able to put my whole body into my artwork and let what ever wants to come, come!
It's never too late to create freely and openly!!

Swati said...

Hi Karin, I love your last two lines; they feel like opening arms wide and embracing the sunshine, like throwing open the shutters of a window long jammed and breathing some fresh air. Thank you for this beautiful beginning to my morning, and for dropping by.