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!
“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 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…
“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
“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” 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” 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 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