I love the PEM. It always has at least one exhibit that inspires me. I take photographs, get ideas for art with my Kindergartners, and gather lots of creative fodder.
This time, it was a solo visit, so I contemplated all the things I might do once I got there. For sure there would be photographing, noticing, thinking, wondering, and of course visiting the gift store. As an aside, it’s funny how I always visit museum gift stores even though I continue to be disappointed by their lack of connection with the museums, and their overall — in my humble opinion — lack of creativity.
I had been playing with the “don’t look away from what you’re drawing” sketching method in the morning. And, I had recently come upon this thought.
As I work at my drawings, day after day, what seemed unattainable before, is now gradually becoming possible.Vincent Van Gogh
My mini watercolor journal sat next to the paper with my sketching. There’s so much that intrigues me with that method, and the loose sketching and painting school of thought. The PEM would surely have something I could sketch. There’s much I want to learn about the empty page, and its relationship to what I’m sketching.
Did I have the nerve to take it to the streets? Could I silence my own inner worrier? Could I put aside anything others might think of me or my work? Could I invite my inner artist to come out and play, and actually accept the invitation? Turns out, I can. But, I get ahead of myself.
I spoke to myself. “Maybe it’ll be fun. You like fun! Be like van Gogh and work on your drawings day after day. Just like for him, new things will gradually become possible.”
And then the kicker.
“How can you ask your Kindergartners to do something you’re unwilling to do?”
As I said that, I recalled my Kindergartners and all our affirmations, as well as my unwillingness to accept their reticence or resistance to trying something new or daunting. I took a deep breath in and out, and reminded myself of our affirmations: I have a big beautiful brain. I have an awesome heart. I can do hard things. I am brave. I am kind. I am a fantabulous artist. With another deep breath, I put my mini watercolor journal and permanent art marker in my bag, and set off for the museum.
You have to take some chances in order to grow.
Arriving at the PEM, I asked one of the museum staff what was the one exhibit to see if I were only going to see one. Without hesitation they suggested I check out the fashion exhibit. Here’s an arted-up photo of my first stop.
I spent time sketching here and at another part of the exhibit. In this one, I stood to the side, out of the way of any museum traffic. For my second sketching session I sat in the seats placed in the middle of the space. Sitting in the seats felt like a big win, and it felt good! I spoke the truth to myself. What anyone else thinks really doesn’t matter, and if they have questions or anything to say, I can explain what I’m doing.
This morning I found time to add watercolor to my sketches. As I did, I experienced worry about possibly messing it up. I chuckled and reminded myself it’s hard to mess something up that already is quite messy just by virtue of what it is. I realized my real worry was how I would manage having to see something I was unhappy with each time I opened my journal. Curiosity, love of making art, and the prospect of fun and learning won me over.
I sat on my couch with a cup of tea — careful not to dip my brush into the tea instead of the rinse cup — and painted. It was fun, and I like the result.
I thought about all sorts of detail I might add. My inner worrier, and my inner artist declined. One because she didn’t want to mess it up. The other because she thought it might not go with the otherwise loose look of the piece.
As I cooked my breakfast I thought, “Hmmm. Might I mask most of the image, leaving only the one figure that had a good bit of detail in the exhibit, and add some dots and detail with splatters of paint?” I grabbed some scrap paper out of the junk draw and did a really relaxed masking, followed by some splattering of paint.
I like how the splatters add detail without clashing too much with the sketching method.
There’s a lot reflect upon as a teacher.
- It’s not always easy to go against your inner worrier, or accept an invitation to play — even when you’d really like to do so.
- Breathing helps.
- Affirmations helps.
- Van Gogh’s quote is true for much more than drawing.
- It’s valuable to know you aren’t the only one feeling the way you are feeling.
- It’s valuable to know that others have succeeded.
- It’s good to have time to circle back — after you’ve had time to think — and work a bit more.
- It’s important to have many opportunities to work and grow your art, understanding, and confidence.
I’m going to think about this — not just for art, but certainly for art. I’m excited to see what possibilities will make themselves known.