Taking an art class doesn’t have to be intimidating!
Have I told you what happened to me when I took a silk painting class? I couldn’t wait to try out the technique and I knew exactly what I wanted to do for one of my scarves. The instructor showed us what to do for the first scarf; drop some colour onto the scarf and let it blend over time. I pictured a lovely scarf with sunset colours, orange and green and red. I could see it in my mind.
I picked up the red ink and dropped some colour onto my white scarf. Hmm. It looked like blood drops. Well, okay, it will get better. I looked over at another student who was dropping greens and blues onto her scarf. It looked luscious already. Well, I thought, I’ll just keep going and see what happens. I picked up the yellow and dropped it in places around the scarf. Now it looked like some kind of pus or infection. And the red was spreading out. The whole thing looked a bit like a crime scene! What to do?
Before Zentangle I probably would have started to panic and worry that the whole thing was ruined. But actually, I started to laugh. I decided to call my scarf Dexter (remember that show?) and set it with the others to continue spreading the colour throughout the scarf. It doesn’t matter – it’s just a practise piece anyway.
Onto the next scarf. After stretching it on the frame, we were shown how to add resist lines to create an image. I pictured a scarf full of giant poke roots and poke leaves in purple on a blue background. Again, I could see it in my mind. As it was the first time using resist, I worked slowly and carefully, but there were still places where the resist didn’t get right onto the fabric and when I added the colour there was a little bleeding. When I looked around, I could see some of the other scarves and they looked perfect – colours all in place, lines clean and neat, and overall effect quite stunning.
But here’s where it got interesting again. Instead of comparing my efforts and feeling discouraged, I found myself saying, okay, this worked here, but not there. Next time, I want to …. and I was enjoying the parts that I liked and analyzing what I would do differently next time. I was thinking of this as my practice piece.
And that makes so much sense! Once I let go of the idea that I was going to create a perfect scarf in this very first attempt, I gave myself permission to risk trying other things, experimenting, and analyzing as I went along. It’s just a practice piece.
And in true Zentangle fashion, when both scarves were done, I was very happy with the overall results. Dexter was a beautiful splash of orange, yellow and red – not exactly sunset looking, but bright and cheerful and quite lovely. And my pokeroot scarf goes perfectly with a dress I sometimes wear. While it’s not perfect, the effect is quirky and charming.
So the best lesson I learned from taking this class is to embrace my own learning style, and enjoy the process. Others may ‘get it’ the first time around, but I don’t have to. I can just have fun learning about the process, trying it out, and just messing around and figuring things out on my own from there. The result might not be perfect, but it’s me!
I’m not going to pretend I never succumb to ‘comparanoia’, but when I do, I just think of my Dexter scarf and smile.
“Art is in intention, not perfection.”