Artistic Pursuits

In my quest to become a more well round vintage-esque lass, I decided art was something I should be *doing* more of. Now I am thinking back prior to the 40/50s to more of the Jane Austen period where women played piano and painted and seemed to have all the time in the world to practice. I didn’t know what I was going to do art wise, I just knew it would be “something arty”.

I grew up in an extremely artistic family and artistic pursuits were always encouraged. The problem was I wasn’t any good. Now I know I probably set my sights too high given my aunty is an extremely talented person with a fine art degree and my nana has been drawing and painting since she was little and my grandmama was the first female admitted an the Australian mens comedy organisation and did the splits on tv on her 65th birthday…but when I couldn’t come close to “doing it right” I gave up entirely and stuck to what I could do well – maths and science.

After noticing the same perfectionist streak in my eldest daughter (crying and wanting to burn her self portrait as it “sucked”) I decided to start drawing again. I bought myself a little art book and kept it hidden beside my bed so I didn’t have any pressure. I  started off drawing naked ladies, because CURVES and eventually moved on to emo self portraits where one half of my face was all normal and the other half hideously deformed. I always had more fun doing the second half. I briefly thought about taking a landscape water colour class (that’s where my nana met her boyfriend all those years ago…and he was the teacher! Go Nan!!!) but as I have no interest in landscapes I never really got around to looking. Instead I busied myself looking for hat making short courses because hats are awesome. Before I knew it I had applied for and been accepted into a year long TAFE (college) course in millinery. I was so excited until I realised the first month was drawing class….each one being four hours long.

I would insert a photo of me looking terrified and running away, but instead I was just super anxious. The class, as I suspected, was filled with young artistic people and three mums. At least I wasn’t asked if I was the teacher like my classmate *ouch* The class started with some warm up exercises. Writing our name, signing our name, signing our names like we were in a car with a flat tyre on a bumpy road, writing our name with our left hand, drawing a jar, drawing the jar upside down, drawing the jar upside down but with our left hand and finally drawing our jar without looking at the paper. While there were plenty of times I almost switched hands without thinking during the left handed parts…the not looking at the paper was the hardest. Every time I looked I was suppose to start over and I looked A LOT!

Jar Without Looking


“Jars without Looking” by Miss Fairchild (I can see this one in the Museum one day!)

After the jars we moved on to bowls of fruit. Terrifying!!! Especially as my “fruit” was all types of onions. Given my extremely awesome artistic talent it looks like a bowl full of eyes…YUM!
Fruit Bowl 1“Fruit Bowl Study #1” (aka “Bowl of Eyes”) by Miss Fairchild…opening bid $50 000….any takers?

My teacher actually sighed when she saw my fruit bowl drawing and not the “oh so good” sigh, the sigh that is “I am never going to be able to teach this terrible drawer anything”. It wasn’t encouraging. She gave me some general advice and then we moved on to picking a piece and drawing just that. I actually think I did much better with my onion on it’s own…

Onion Drawing

“When Life Gives You Onions….You Draw them Badly” by Miss Fairchild

Now this looks a lot better … except I can’t see all that great in anything other than daylight (even with my crazy strong prescription glasses) and there wasn’t just one light source. But my teacher wanted light and shadow so I just imagined it. Shhh…don’t tell anyone.

Finally we moved onto hats. By now I have professed my love of hats and am the only person in the class wearing a hat…so I get called “resident hat expert” and asked to name a hat…of course I froze and couldn’t even say “umm…sunhat?” before someone else answered. Had it been a pillbox hat or a cloche I would have been fine. Then she sat a hat in front of each person and I got…a baseball cap. It was so hideously ugly…but it was terribly easy to draw

Finished Cap Drawing 1

“Baseball Cap Study with weird sticky-outy bit #1” by Miss Fairchild

No light and shadow going on though…because I just can’t do it!!!! Finally class was over and I could hide in my room and cry about how much I suck. So that’s what I did all day Friday and most of Saturday. Of course we have homework though – to draw two hats we have at home. I thought my blue lace pillbox and my red felt cloche would be the easiest. So they sat out taunting me next to my art journal and pencil case. So finally I sat down last night and attempted to draw them as I am going to need plenty of practice before I hand in a finished copy to be marked….OMG marked!!! (Yes this is where I sent a terrified anxiety filled email to my teacher about how much I suck and am scared of failing and have youtube-d all the art videos I can take…because, well that’s what I do)

Pillbox Study 1

“Pillbox Study #1” by Miss Fairchild

I of course discovered drawing my pillbox hat is actually really hard. Not just because of the lace, but the indent in the top. Cursing picking it…but none of my other hats seem like they will be any easier to draw. I am up to study #4 so far and each one is looking worse than the previous. It takes mad skillz to get worse with practice. So then I moved onto my cloche…

Cloche Study 1

“Cloche Study #1” by Miss Fairchild

Now finally onto something that doesn’t make me cry and want to claw my own eyeballs out. It didn’t turn out to bad. I am onto #3 of this hat and I think I am making a *tiny* amount of progress. Except with the lighting/shadow. Now it would probably help if it wasn’t ten million degrees outside…as then I would be able to sit at my kitchen table in natural light, instead of in my bedroom with all the blinds closed, the air conditioner on with only one working tungsten lightbulb (My light is suppose to hold two lightbulbs). So am trying not to be too hard on myself….but given that you have read this far, you know just how well I am doing with that.

So after youtube-ing and googling and youtube-ing some more I reserved all the fashion illustration books my library has and got hubby to pick up the only one they had in. It does happen to be on my recommended reading list for class so that’s a win.

Fashion Illustrator book by Bethan Morris

Fashion Illustrator by Bethan Morris

I am trying hard to remember the advice my nana gave me “Drawing is a skill that can be learned”, but it’s really hard. I hate not being great at it…especially when I am surrounded by family members who make it look so easy. I will keep trying and keep you updated on my drawing evolution (unless I go insane and drop out of the course because “ARGGG DRAWING!!!”).

So lovelies…what skills do you have and what would you love to be amazing at?

Miss Fairchild xoxo

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14 Responses to Artistic Pursuits

  1. I’m a perfectionist big time to the point where it sometimes becomes a little debilitating (that’s where my OCD traits kick in followed by an anxiety if something isn’t ‘right). If I start a shopping list in pencil and can only find a pen to continue it, I have to start all over again. Or if I write something in larger letters than the other words, I have to start over until everything looks right. I am absolutely terrible at art and drawing and years ago I went to a beginners painting class. We had to draw a still life vegetable and my eggplant looked so bad and I was getting flustered. The teacher said “did you expect to be a master in your first ever class?” and my gut reaction was “YES!” It sucks but over the years I’ve learned to try and chill more (easier said than done!). I can totally identify with wanting to burn work that isn’t ‘perfect’!

    There’s a good book called “Drawing on the right side of the brain” (something like that). You can see before-after pics of the pictures the author’s students draw. My sister’s partner is an artist and he says anyone can draw and you just practise. Except when I practise I think my stuff looks stupid so I never do it!

    I would definitely buy one of your hats! 🙂

    • Oh I know that feeling. OCD-ness is the worst! That book is on my recommended reading list so I am going to grab it. Thanks for the recommendation. I have always been the same – I know practice makes perfect, but if it’s not perfect by the second time I have practised I want to give up.

  2. haha, talk about being a frustrated artist myself. I really can relate to this! I still don’t know my skills yet but I am addicted to drawing ever since I was young. Unluckily now, I can’t,lol. 🙂 Anyways, I believe you can do it. 🙂

  3. Nora says:

    Well done on taking up drawing! I am awful with drawing – I tried sketching for a while but I don’t get as much satisfaction out of it! You of course know how much I love my sewing. I’m constantly making stuff so hopefully I’ll get better and better – it’s super satisfying being able to wear them out and say “oh this? I made it” hahahaha

    • I have to admit when I have no one looking or have no “end product” in mind I am quite happy drawing and painting and even scultping. My teacher did notice I quite happily switched from various lead pencils to soft pastels (my favourite as a kid) to oil pastels to textas quite easily. So clearly my family did something right with giving me access to so many beautiful mediums as a child. It is wonderful to do something well…but incredibly frustrating when you can’t. Your dresses look fabulous and I can’t wait to say that about my own hats one day.

  4. Don’t be so hard on yourself! You’ve done one class and these things take practice – lot’s of practice. I’m very perfectionist myself and I hate it when things don’t come naturally to me but I think your cloche picture is fantastic and the books will help with your light and dark. Good luck and stick it out because the course sounds really good!


  5. What a marvelous, commendable pursuit! I cannot draw to save my life – your hats here far surpass anything I could likely draw (I joke that my even my stick people hardly resemble stick people). I truly wish you luck and success with creative endeavour and hope you will continue to share your artwork with us.

    ♥ Jessica

    • You are too sweet lovely lady. I find it so hard to not compare myself to others – especially my 11yo who has the most amazing natural drawing talent. And not just copying stuff, creating comic characters that are like nothing I have ever seen. I will keep trying and sharing. If I can do it, anyone can!

  6. Teresa says:

    I think it’s fantastic and inspiring you’re taking this class and pushing your creative side. I can see you have your own distinct style (in the cap and cloche drawings) and I think the classes (as much as they can be terrifying) will help you develop it further and perfect it.

    My old employer had a copy of that fashion book but I never did around to reading it. I hope you find it inspiring. 🙂


  7. Jennifer says:

    This course sounds like an amazing opportunity, I’m so in awe of you stepping up to do something like this! your drawings are already better than anything I would do so don’t worry yourself. Can’t wait to hear more about this x

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