Learning Art

September 10, 2010
Deepti Lamba

I always wanted to learn how to draw and color. Tell that to a child and he will give you a- 'are you nuts?' look. Drawing and coloring comes naturally to children but as we grow up we give in to the inner censor (ego) and decide even doodling is too tough to master. But for some the urge to express themselves through art helps them surmount the know it all inner perfectionist.

I decided to take art classes three months ago. Initially, we did lots of pencil sketching of still life objects. Our art instructor is of the opinion that once people know the basic rules of art anyone can draw. But here is the catch - we weren't allowed to use grid lines, in fact we weren't allowed to use something as common as a ruler.

The pencil held by the tip and the entire arm used to draw a line makes a straight line. I didn't believe her but that was then. My dependence on the plastic ruler has come to a virtual end. But I still struggle with sketching.

In the art class we all struggle with drawing and coloring. There are six of us. Three girls who are about ten years old and the rest are a few thirty-plus women who have finally decided to give in to their desire to create art. And we all are at the primary stages.

We rely on erasers, encouragement and the infinite patience of the art teacher. For close to three months, every Sunday, for two hours, we'd sketch still life. I came close to losing my mind drawing bottles, spheres, circles, clay pots, fruits and vegetables. But I also learned the concept of light, reflection and proportions. One little line drawn wrong and the entire drawing looks loopy.

Take my jalopy for example. People look at it and say the roof is all wrong and yes, it is. I still am new at perspective and suck at drawing lines.

I suck at a lot of things. I'm still learning about colors and not just primary and secondary colors but the mixing of different kind of hues giving different kinds of mixes and that is a whole lot of fun filled in with the 'aaaah!' moments.

But after three months, I told my teacher that apart from learning to draw I also wanted to learn water colors. She insisted that I continue learning how to draw and I insisted that I wanted to do both together. She shrugged and my playing with water colors began.

I knew that its a difficult medium to master but I didn't understand the scope of frustration that comes with it. My initial bumbling at water colors led the art instructor to softly suggest - 'Get poster colors for the next class. Its easier to replicate water colors with posters.'

Initially it felt like a demotion and my ego snickered and muttered- 'Who are you kidding? You are color blind and you suck at art!' But I grit my teeth and bought some poster colors and turned up for my art class next Sunday.

I made two apples, grapes and a banana. The apples looked like crude red blobs, the grapes virtually colorless but the banana turned out nice and made me stare at it with wonder. The instructor touched it up to give it depth and some more color and I again had my -aah! moment.

Apart from my art classes I've also started inking instead of shading and its an obsession that beats OCD. Its all about little squiggles, dots and lines. Here is the parrot that I drew and inked.


My art teacher looked at it and said - 'Anyone can ink but mastering water colors requires dedication'.

I looked back quietly and did not mention the hours I spent inking and my hurting eyes. That was her opinion and she was welcome to it. I, on the other hand, love inking and the depth it gives to a sketch.

For me, learning how to draw and color is like stepping into a world that I thought was out of my reach and the best part is - here mistakes are not seen as mistakes but as as learning curves.

Ego has no place in art.

dee.jpgDeepti Lamba is an author, besides editing at Desicritics
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