One morning soon after the annual Inktober drawing challenge had begun, I was doing a bit of blog-hopping. It’s always fun to see what other artists are creating with their pens and inks. At some point, I came across a post I loved, although it had nothing to do with Inktober.
The blogger listed five things she couldn’t be without when it came to her art. She was in a much different place than I am as an artist, and she included a number of social media platforms she used for promoting her work. Maybe someday I’ll find those marketing tools helpful, too.
While reading her list, I began to wonder what five things I might list as essentials in my art. I knew my list would be much different, and I made a note to compile a list — once Inktober was finished.
In recent weeks, I’ve spent a bit of time browsing the blogosphere, searching again for the initial 5 Things post I’d read before. I wanted to review her list again as I thought about my must-haves. I haven’t been able to locate the post again. If you’ve seen it, read it, know where it was or who posted it, please send me the link.
So, what things do I consider essential for creating art?
#1 A dedicated art space
I often complain about my kitchen-corner studio. I don’t like cluttering up our kitchen with art materials, but I know I couldn’t do my art without that area. Sometimes in art, the hardest part is getting started. If I had to dig out art supplies before painting, I’d probably spend a lot less time at my easel. I hate the mess, and I wish I had a real studio, a place where I could do my drawing and painting, then close the door behind me afterward. I will probably never have a little art studio of my own, so I’m grateful to have a little place where I can do my artwork each day.
#2 My husband’s encouragement
I was going to include this as an additional thought about my art space, and then decided it was important enough to my artistic development that it deserved a number of its own. I am very grateful to have a husband who doesn’t complain about having an easel, a mess of paints and palettes, and lots of odd jars of thinners, medium, and oil crammed into the kitchen. Not only does he not complain, he actively encourages me, coming to my easel each afternoon to see what I’m working on, helping me hang pictures at display sites, and even putting a few of my paintings on the walls of his office at work. From the time I first told him I was learning to draw (after keeping it a secret for several weeks), he has been nothing but supportive. Where I expected him to laugh at the thought, he responded with praise, suggested I buy good art supplies, and asked what he could do to help me. Did I need storage shelves? Should we get new light fixtures? Would I want to go shopping for an easel? I love my husband and his belief in me as an artist.
#3 Canvas panels
From the start, I learned that I liked painting on canvas panels much better than stretched canvases. I’ve used both, and I’ve learned to adapt to either, but given a choice I will always opt for the canvas panel. I love the feel of them. I love the wide variety of sizes available. I love that I can pick up inexpensive ones in the children’s art section of Wal-Mart and use them for my practice paintings.
Buying a sketchbook was the first real investment I made in myself as I set out to learn to draw. I really didn’t think in terms of becoming an artist at that time, because the whole idea was too far-fetched. Oh, how I hesitated to buy that sketchbook. I figured I was just wasting the money since I could never really learn to draw, right? Now, here I am, three and a half years later, still happily filling sketchbooks with drawings of many different things. I have one sketchbook just for figure drawing, another for drawing birds. I love my sketchbooks if for no other reason than that they symbolize my journey. Artists have sketchbooks. I have sketchbooks. I am, therefore, an artist. In formal logics, that’s a fallacy, but it works for me in my little world of art.
#5 This blog
One day in March 2016, I got this crazy idea to create a blog and post a colored pencil drawing I’d just completed. It was one of the best drawings I’d ever done, and I was proud of it.
In that moment, I think I wanted to pretend I was a real artist, an artist who actually had something to show. Of course, I had nothing beyond that one drawing. I had lots of sketches and scribbles, but nothing to brag about. The idea of having an art blog was beyond ridiculous.
I soon learned, however, that I did have something to share: my journey itself. I discovered that I had a lot to say about art, and even more to say about the experience of learning art. I wanted to share what I was learning, and most of all I wanted to encourage others who, like me, had always said, “Oh, I can’t draw.”
What I found after starting this blog, was that I got back so much more than I gave. Little by little, people began to find Artistcoveries — and at first, I was sure all of the real artists out there would laugh at my little art adventures. Instead, every one of you offered encouragement. You answered questions I had, you made helpful suggestions when I wasn’t sure which way to go, and you celebrated each little artistic triumph.
How can I thank you for all you’ve done? You’ve listened to me whine, you’ve seen me through tears of frustration and tears of joy. You’ve seen the best of my art and the worst of my art.
And along the way, some of you have found a little inspiration here, too. Nothing makes me happier than knowing that my experiences have been meaningful to others; nothing gives me greater pleasure than feeling that I’ve helped someone else discover the joy of art.
Thank you for being part of my journey. I wouldn’t be here — couldn’t be here — without each of you.