“I’m not much of an artist.”
How many of us adults have thought this to ourselves, dismissing any form of creative ability within? It’s so easy to look at others’ masterpieces and simply resign ourselves to the belief that we will never be that ‘talented’. I decided to give this limiting belief a kick in the butt whilst living here in Vietnam.
I recall watching a TED Talk years ago.
I can’t even remember what the main point of it was, but what stuck with me was that the speaker said that if you walk into a classroom of pre-schoolers and ask kids to put up their hands if they can draw, almost always 100% of them will raise their hands. When high-school students were asked the same, less than half of the class raised their hands.
So what has changed? People do not lose their ability over time. They do lose their belief in themselves. I think that along with this, people also forget how therapeutic art can be; a form of self-expression not demanding much cerebral and logical thought. Not having the time or inclination are among the reasons that people give for not indulging in their creativity. Of course it isn’t for everyone, but I can guarantee that when asking those not practicing art why they do not do so, the response will be “I wish I could but I don’t have the ability” rather than “I really don’t enjoy art.”
I recently met Son, a Vietnamese guy who is an artist in his free time.
I immediately saw an opportunity for a skill exchange! Weeks prior I had purchased a watercolour set and paper after having a creative morning with Minh Anh, the little girl I teach maths to here. I asked him if he would be willing to meet up with me and go through some of the basics. I was in luck! We met up one morning and over a couple of hours Son taught me the basics of watercolours whilst we enjoyed coconut ice-cream and my go-to cafe su da (iced coffee with milk).
Son showing me how it’s done
Tips for Painting:
- Whilst learning, don’t start off with too much colour. Rather stick to one or two colours, and experiment with these – styles, textures, brush strokes, and so on. Removing the complication of colour initially makes it easier to develop the fundamental painting skills
- With watercolour, try to stick to longer single strokes rather than many little messy strokes. Some might naturally want to do the rougher, sketch-like lines, but try and avoid this at first
- Choose the right paper! Paper texture makes such a difference, especially when it comes to watercolours. It seems that cold-press acid-free is most versatile
- If you’re not feeling it, you’re not feeling it. Like with other creative activities, don’t force it. You don’t have to wake up in the mood, but if you’re feeling a block, forcing yourself to overcome it will just end up making it worse. Stand up, have a stretch, go for a walk, and come back to it later or another day.