When I was 17, I was looking at some preschool children’s pictures. I noticed something. These preschool children didn’t make their drawings fit inside the four sides of the paper. It was like the world they were seeing was bigger than the paper (which it is) so that’s how they painted it. When kids hit school, even though it’s not surprising that the pictures they draw would change as they increase in age. Typically it seems if they draw a house, they draw it as a square with a triangle on top for a roof. Two squares representing windows are put inside that square. If they add a sun it’s a circle with radiating lines, trees are brown with a cloud shaped green top, sun; yellow, etc. And everything fitting inside the paper. I actually remember being taught how to draw like this and wondering as a 5 year old, “Why was the Sun yellow when during the day it mostly looked white?” I wonder if teaching us as children how to draw this way, has it taught us to not see what’s actually in front of us?
Much older and not so long ago I decided I wanted to learn how to paint. Little shy about it. I wasn’t sure if I would be able to, because I remember being told artistic talent is something you have or haven’t got. But, I heard of a good teacher, Stephen Wilson and I went to him. He told me anyone can paint. Painting he said is about seeing. When you can see then you can paint. His first lessons included teaching you how to see. Which I think was kind of like seeing things as you saw them preschool.
I remember having an epiphany (which is going to sound far-fetched) – but walking out of the studio and looking at a tree – and suddenly actually seeing it, like it was the very first time I’d seen a tree. The dapple of the grey to black shadows hitting the bark, the crevice shadows outlining the peeling bark. The graduation of off-whites, off-yellows, off-greens, browns, greys lightening as they circled up the height of the trunk. The deeper harder more dense shades of colour around the base.. and more. I drove home, looked around and suddenly the whole world felt like it verged on being magical – and realer than it had been before. And I felt a palpable sense of awe.
Here’s the first painting I made.