Friday, October 01, 2004

Getting started on the art endevour

I have been interested in photography since I was about 13 and have had a wider interest in all things creative. My mother’s father was a photographer and a tattooist around the turn of the century i.e. late 1800's. My mother also dabbled with a brush and pencil. So I suppose there is a genetic creative streak in me. Although I find traditional wet photography a fascinating and very creative medium I find digital photography much less satisfying. For the last couple of years, since I had to give up my darkroom when we moved house, I have been searching for another outlet for my creative frustrations. Retirement, 12 months ago seemed an appropriate point for a change in direction. It was time to put to good use the collection of how to paint and draw books and boxes of tubes and pans that family and friends had been buying as birthday and Christmas gifts over the past few years. It was time to dust them off and get my beret out!

But where does one start? As luck would have it the winter season of further education classes was about to start. In a very spooky coincidence the prospectus from Lancaster University dropped on the mat the following morning. A quick search revealed a daytime course which seemed to be just up my street, “An introduction to pen, ink and wash” one of my favourite art mediums. I rang up, enrolled, and waited with baited breath for the starting day to arrive.

The class was composed mainly of ladies of a certain age, the odd earnest gentleman and me, Mr Normal and well adjusted. The course was to last 10 weeks. The tutor, a knowledgeable lady who had come to teaching late in life showered us with enthusiasm. The objective of the course turned out to be the production of a portfolio which would be presented to the authorities (Lancaster University) as justification for keeping her in employment. This was what is described as a "Leisure Class" by those who take there art more seriously but we all have to start somewhere! As may be expected in a class of some 13 people there was a mix of talents and enthusiasm. Those who collected such classes like a train numbers and knew the ropes inside out. To the truly gifted person who should really have been enrolled in a proper Art School, no not me! A lively 70 year old who had brought up a large family and coped with a drunken abusive husband. Her greatest dream was to go to Glasgow Art School to fulfil her life long ambition to demonstrate her undoubted natural artistic skill. I stuck it out for 10 weeks, produced my portfolio, discovered I really could draw but this approach I found rather stifling. Did I really want to be an Artist?