Wednesday, 28 September 2011

The Stay Inside The Lines Challenge!

The ability to paint or sculpt or draw is mechanical. It’s muscles and tendons, joints and ligaments, all working in coordination with the eyes. Much frustration in art comes from people not being able to get them all working together – particularly in adults who have returned to art after a break of years or even decades. Well, sadly, unless you are wired up in a very unusual way, that’s normal. The old saying about 'never forgetting how to ride a bicycle' is just as true for art ... you’re going to be a bit wobbly if you haven't done it for a while. But practice will make it better. And if you're complete novice, you'll get some cuts and scuffs and scream in frustration occasionally ... but you will get there.

Many art books provide exercises that will help you to hone your hand-eye skills; things like drawing the same-sized circle over and over again. Yawn. Really? Is that really the most entertaining way to retrain our muscles? I’d suggest that a much more fun way is to do some colouring in.

Yes, I did say colouring in.

Remember doing this at school? Or on a rainy holiday? ‘Staying inside the lines’ is a fantastic way to build hand-eye coordination, even as an adult. Print off some line drawings from the internet and get some colouring pencils. Experiment with shading and light and different effects. The more you do it, the more familiar your hands will become with media you use.

All of which leads me to this new challenge. Just below you'll see a picture that I've drawn. Or half-drawn. Here it is (click on the image to get a larger version, then right click and save):

(Alternatively you can click here and get a 1024x768 .jpg of the image).

I want you to do two things for me:

(1) Firstly, I want you to complete the picture. What is the man reacting to? Why isn't his dog reacting - has it seen something else? Where are they? What's in the background? Get that imagination working! Your creative brain is like a muscle too - the more you work it, the stronger it gets. You can draw or paint or stick bits on and make a collage if you like. Do whatever floats your particular boat.

(2) I want you to colour the picture in. Use paints, pencils, felt tips, biros, body fluids. Nick stuff from the kids' bedroom. Steal crayons from Pizza Hut or Harvester. Do it on the computer if you're comfortable with art programs like Photoshop. Use different techniques: shading, cross-hatching, stippling, pointilism. Make it monochrome or multi-coloured. Do whatever you want!

What I should get back is a whole bunch of completely different colour illustrations. As always, I'll draw an original doodle on a postcard - the subject dictated by you - for everyone who enters.

Colouring in has been proven to improve hand-eye coordination, help with colour recognition, enable self-expression, build motor skills like grip and control, as an aid to focus ... even as therapy. It's a powerful way to create something new and different while exercising your artistic muscles. Here's a drawing by my four year old grandson coloured in by me using just three pencils: red, brown and yellow. It lifts the whole thing doesn't it?

So get to it! If you have an problems dowloading the image, email me before Midnight Saturday 1st October and I'll send one out.

Deadline for entries is Midnight Friday 7th October so you have over a week! That's mainly because I'm in Cornwall for most of next week visiting family and interviewing artists for a project I'm working on. You can enter as many times as you like (but you'll only get one doodle!). There's no age limit either - you can be an infant in swaddling clothes or a nonagenarian in a straitjacket.

I can't wait to see what you produce. Have fun!

And stay inside the lines!

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