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Learning to learn well

Artists are not like athletes. We cannot win gold. We cannot beat other creatives. We cannot come first. Sport is objective. Our craft is subjective. Creating to 'be the best' is a waste of energy. Instead, create to connect to the people who need you… Take the pressure off…”

I have not been able to find out who said this, but the quote helped me reach the halfway point in my oil painting training in a relaxed manner.

As my penultimate painting in block 2 of my course, I chose to paint three eggshells.

I love the sculptural quality of broken eggshells.

Painting eggshells in grey scale was difficult, and the result did not look as interesting as I had envisaged. (I will probably return to the subject once I have learned about colour!)

I was briefly tempted to choose a very basic composition for my final painting and move quickly into block 3, but decided to come up with a quirky composition that would make me smile. I had great fun experimenting with a seashell and a box of tissues until I found a position in which the box balanced on the shell at an angle.

I now had no straight edges that I could use as my base line for proportional drawing. I was briefly tempted to straighten the box. Instead, I decided to enjoy the challenge of measuring angles and coming up with a way of checking and correcting my measurements.

Reminding myself that any deadlines were only in my head, helped me to work slowly and systematically, taking the time to ponder how to best approach each step of the painting process.

I also paid attention to my energy levels. I stopped working when I lost focus rather than forcing myself to finish the painting in one day. After three days, the painting had come together.

Interestingly, it is the first painting where the tutors did not make any improvement suggestions – but for me the main achievement is that I learned how to enjoy learning.


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