What a year it has been. When we first hit lockdown version 1.0, we (as in the royal ArtistAnd we) thought we would crumble. Some of you may have read the story previously in our other blog but we will give you a brief summary anyway. Feel free to skip or revisit the blog post here.
Back in March, we were still a young company, and by all means of the word - we still are! 1.2 years old (whoop whoop). Getting people to know we existed with our paintings and workshops had become quite a chore, and we felt rather stuck, yet still hopeful. We knew it would be a long gain and so were working hard behind the scenes to come up with ideas and get creative. When lockdown happened, we felt like that was it. Over. Finit as they say in french! But one day, a friend of mine said, ‘China, why don’t you host a drawing class online?’ ‘It wouldn't work!’ I cried. ‘How can people learn to draw, when they can’t see me draw and learn from my hands,’ I thought to myself?
100 workshops later …(mental, I know) I realised something. It’s not about me. There are other ways to learn and get the best from people and the lessons are about them. Art is about the individuals unique journey to learning and understanding the value of art and going back to using their hands. Their exploration for creativity and fulfilment with using your AritstHands ( get it, ArtistAnd - ArtistHand?) as a means of expression, meditation and mental wellbeing. Most people have access to these tools and can unleash the benefits anytime. Art isn’t always about being a technically brilliant artist, it is about an individual's journey and the steps they take to get there.
I’ve taught a lot of students over the years, and they have taught me more than I ever thought. Every single student, before they even put pencil to paper tells me ‘I can’t draw. I can’t even draw a stickman.’ They panic and worry and it makes me feel a little sad that they are so apprehensive about such an amazing practise that everyone is completely entitled to. Call me hypocritical but the thing is, I remember speaking to people who practised yoga and saying to them, ‘I'm not flexible, I can’t even touch my toes.’ The response was always the same, ‘yes but you will.’ Even though I am still not flexible, at all, I enjoy the journey and I can see small improvements and little wins along the way. I am enjoying the journey and accepting the process. We don’t start off as experts, that’s why we take lessons.
Whenever I teach students, they are the first person to see the flaws in their work. And this is what I love. If they can see the mistake, then they are halfway there fixing it. If you can’t see the mistake, then we have a lot more work to do. Sometimes, I will point out one or two improvements but we need to remember, Rome wasn’t built in a day. In every person’s drawing, there will be something that is amazing, something to be proud of. Take the small wins and work on the rest but make the small wins huge! If you have sketched in a style that you are happy with but the proportions are wrong, then be proud of the style. If you like the contours of the hands, even though it is too big, celebrate the contours. If you don’t like the hair but you like the eyes, draw more eyes and become an expert! You can always work on what you aren’t happy with, but be proud of the talents you do have and remember, you are entitled to being your own artist. And if all else fails, what you may not enjoy about your drawing, others may love.
We have been doing a lot of corporate workshops, which gives ArtistAnd so much more scope to increase individuals awareness of the benefits of being creative. Each week we meet a lot of people who may not necessarily have ever thought to take a drawing class, but due to circumstance,opportunity, or being forced to partake in the weekly work social, they are forced to partake in this team building activity - and they are forced to deal with me. I would say - lucky them! If you have never drawn before you have more of a chance of surprising yourself so I love being faced with a fearful novice who, to use the cliche term, is a blank canvas. Not only do theyhave the best teacher in the world, and perhaps the funniest (that’s me in case you had any doubts), you are also given the opportunity to learn something new, in a safe space without any expectations or pressures. Everyone is in the same boat, and we are using drawing as mode of fun and exploration rather than just strictly realistic training.
In order to make our classes more accessible to companies and teams, we have been eagerly spreading the word of our inclusive services all over our social media and partnerships. One of which is www.team-building-experiences.co.uk who help to bring teams together through shared experiences and activities. Sharing the same values as us in bringing together through experience and new opportunities, we have teamed up with them to bring more art to the world to share with your friends and colleagues. Check out their website and the amazing other workshops they offer.
I will leave you on this note.
An essential aspect of creativity is not being afraid to fail