There’s a small gathering I can see on the other side of the door. These are my new classmates. I wave from my jalopy to catch their attention. It’s cold out here – eventually my new able-bodied friends see my predicament. With a warm blast of air I’m inside and amongst strangers huddling outside the art room.
Soon we are arranging ourselves around the large art table that stretches the length of the room in a carbuncle building with refreshingly high ceilings. But despite the large welcoming windows, the setting sun will surely deprive us of natural light as the wintry afternoon expires.
We start off with ‘icebreakers’ – little games designed to engage one another. But it seems that we are all more than happy to present some truths about ourselves.
Forgive me for not telling you more about my art group or the teacher. Let’s say that everything looks promising and we are all set for jolly japes. I’m not a narcissist choosing only to talk about myself, but not everyone wants to be in my story I guess.
It quickly becomes apparent that we are not five newbies – in fact, I thought by choosing the ‘beginners’ class everyone would be as rough and ready me. It turns out that there was an ‘absolute beginners’ course in the autumn so I’ve got some catching up to do.
I’ve come unprepared – not even a quill or piece of vellum. Today we need pencils – soft ones and hard ones. To my rescue comes Carrol who lends me a gamut of pencils that I never knew existed. 2B – the mildly footloose one; 4B – the maverick one; 2H – the controlled and empathetic one. Each of these would have to become my friends. After a small shading exercise I realise that they are all like untamed horses – It’s my job to break them in gently or perhaps harshly.
Sorry Carol, I can return your pencils but I’m afraid I’ve liberally dispersed the graphite on my recently purloined piece of paper. It was a shading exercise that made us think about ‘pressure’. I naturally succumbed to using the ‘writing grip’ – I didn’t know there was any other way of making marks on paper. My kindly teacher then introduced me to the ‘underhand’ grip for making longer and straighter lines.
That’s the grip for me – the underhand grip. I hope it doesn’t reflect my nature. Perhaps it’s called the underhand grip because it’s a little bit like tricksters, trying to conceal some sort of magic.
Well there we are – my first step in my quest to become a creative: to unlearn all of the habitual behaviours that I learnt in school. I guess that’s my main revelation in Lesson #1. – realising that there are other ways of doing things… even if it’s in a rather underhand way.