It's all too easy to get stuck in a rut on our creative journey, following one style or theme and/or losing the ability to create individual and authentic works of art. A couple of years ago I found a secondhand book by Elva Bett called Drawing and Painting: A Complete Study Course.... This book was about broadening and deepening my own personal experience by encouraging me to explore a fluidity of expression, something that would take me away from my own "tight" style and push me past my own rigid boundaries.
TIME TO LOOSEN UP!
In her very first assignment, Bett gets you to loosen up (before picking up pencil or other medium) by advising you to spread your fingers wide, crack your knuckles (!), shake your hands at the wrists and THEN pick up your pencil and see how many different ways you can hold that pencil. It does indeed sound like yoga for the hands but try it, then do the following:
1. With a small stack of paper or a scrapbook in front of you, in mid air start to describe circles with your pencil. When you feel that the pencil (not you) is making the circles, let it find its own way onto the paper. Do a page of these circles then flip the sheet over.
2. Draw a page of circles in reverse.
3. Transfer the pencil to your other hand and fill the page with circles, starting from the left hand corner.
4. With the pencil still in this hand, start at the lower right hand corner and fill another page with circles.
Bett comments at this stage: "Not so easy , is it? We make use of only a fraction of our faculties and forget to train the others. Only when the well runs dry do we consider the water."
5. With a thicker poencil (eg. 2B or 3B) hold it in the palm of yor hand and use the lead on its side. Do another page of circular movements.
6. Repeat in reverse.
7. Swap hands and do the same again.
8. Experiments in expression: Still using circular movements and a fresh sheeet of paper for each new movemnt, draw:
a. as softly as possible
b. as heavily as possible
c. from small to large
d. from large to small.
9. Finally, create movement using the 3/4 timing of a waltz:
10. Repeat the circular movements filling the page.
11. Interpret the circular movements in the same rhythm, but first softly (pianissimo), then loudly (fortissimo). Fill another page.
12. Last, make the circles become louder (crescendo) then quieter (diminuendo). Start with a light touch and let the movement swell to large, heavy circles, then diminish into lighter, smaller ones. Feel all the movement in your body as you draw.
Bett recommends these exercises, or a variation, before doing any serious artwork. Once you are loose and uninhibited, you can face your canvas with a more open mind. The small work below, entitled Jacob's Ladder, was created after I did the exercises above.
More to come by Bett.....