Maybe you enjoy art. Maybe you have for a long time, but you're absolutely convinced you'd be no good at it. Maybe you tried once and it was no instantaneous success, so you concluded you were not born with natural talent. But you still enjoy it and when you see art being made your mirror neurons fire up like crazy. You thought about getting into making art, but it seems so hard, you deem the task impossible to accomplish.
Well, I've got good news for you! There are ways to get into it without suffering! Instead of starting with the fundamentals of the academic way, you start with the joyful, playful part, and then see if you want to develop it further. If not, that's ok too! There is no wrong path, there is no mandatory goal. You just have to enjoy it. All else is secondary.
So here are some ways in which you can start flexing some art muscles without the weight of a whole career on your shoulders. I'll tell you why each one of these options is a good idea and not just meaningless children stuff. Just try and let them take you where they may!
There's a craze about coloring books for adults that has been going around for a couple of years. It has been claimed that coloring, Zentangle and some other creative outlets help reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety, and it might be one reason why they are so successful nowadays. I say almost any, or at least many, many more creative disciplines do the same.
But let's focus on the art side here. While some might see this as a childish pursue with no real benefits in the art skills department, I beg to differ. Yes, you start by just mindlessly putting color to paper and not much else. But as you progress, and stumble upon some results you like, you might want to learn more about doing it better. You might start watching a few YouTube video tutorials and find yourself getting more and more into it. This will lead you to learn about color theory, shading, values and other very important art fundamentals, without the pressure of having to know how to draw, which is something most people seem to be terrified about.
You may just experience it as a phase, or a simple hobby, or maybe you'll get hooked and then you start to wonder if there's more about art you can learn... and that's a wonderful first step! Maybe you can try drawing next? Let's see...
This is another trend from a few years ago, but it's a great way to start. I must confess, when I first learned about Zentangle, back in those days, I thought to myself "OMG, another simple thing turned into a brand! This is just something they want to make money with!"
But then I went to their official site, read what they were about and it wasn't until I tried several Zentangle patterns and tried deconstructing ornamental patterns I saw with the tangle pattern method in mind that I actually GOT it. There are several good things about Zentangle. The first is that by following patterns in steps, you get in this mindset when you start seeing decorative patterns in real life. Then you start thinking about how you would make that pattern step by step. You start deconstructing complexity into simpler components. And this, believe it or not, is the single most valuable skill you have to learn in order to become an artist. So something that starts taking you there without you even trying is remarkable.
Second, when you finish a piece and you see the intricacy you've accomplished, you can't help but to feel good about yourself, so it's a great self-confidence booster. This might sound silly but it's not: remember I talked about how many people don't even think of trying art, let alone drawing, because they are terrified they won't be "talented" enough. So this feeling of success might help you get more into art, which is what you really need to be good at it!
Third, Zentangle also gives you some basic shading instructions, so you'll add this to your tool-set while having fun and enjoying the results, which in turn will lead you to learn more about lighting and shadows and more advanced stuff.
Now you’re free from the constrains of predetermined lines to color inside of or steps to follow and deconstruct. Art journaling is as free as it gets while having a bit of a goal in mind. That is, journaling. Keeping a visual diary, a place to keep your thoughts, feelings and memories in a visual, creative way. Once you’ve played with coloring and Zentangle, you'll have some tools in your creative arsenal to go deeper. What’s good about art journaling is that you don’t need to have a masterpiece in mind before hand. After having the constrains of the other two activities, you may feel intimidated about jumping straight to making a full art piece by yourself. In Art Journaling, you use what you lived, what you feel, what inspired you that day and play with it without pressure or expectations. You may use whatever media you like in whatever way you like. This opens the door for experimentation and for finding new styles and techniques.
Now you will deal with design and composition, something you didn’t have to do much of up until now. But here you can play with it and find what works and what doesn’t, expressing yourself and building up all this experience. When you mix this with all the other things you’ve learned along the way and develop an inner connection with what moves you, you’ll be on your way to becoming an artist, all the while you were just playing.
So if you never gave yourself a chance and this made you the tiniest bit curious, give these a good internet search and dive right in! I’m absolutely positive you won’t regret it.
Barbara Din is a visual artist, graphic designer, painter, interior designer, crafter, musician and writer living in Argentina. Learn more about Barbara and her work at the following links:
Barbara Din Patreon page
Barbara Din YouTube Channel