Everything I need to know about myself I learned in art class
Art can be a beautiful accident. Finding yourself during art class can be one too.
This summer, I enthusiastically signed up for and took a class at Healing Forest Studio in Waukesha. Perfectly located near my yoga teachers at Heffernan Wellness, I figured I could knock out some spiritual, physical and creative energy all in one locale.
Drawing, painting or any kind of physical actualization of a graphic idea translated from my hand onto paper has always fascinated and challenged me.
Putting brush and medium to skin for makeup artistry is a completely different story. The curves of a face, supported by the unique bone structure and skin texture of each of my clients inspires me to paint each of them their most gorgeous version of themselves. I find comfort in my familiar tools, my favorite products and am able to emphasize a face's strengths, while camouflaging flaws.
For some reason, translating an idea from my mind onto paper using pen, ink, charcoal, paint ... never really comes out right or accurate to the vision in my head.
So, I thought, why not start with the basics? Get some training. Learn something new. I was sure it would improve my makeup skills and probably lead to my next career as a tattoo artist or perhaps lead to a gallery showing of my brilliant work.
I arrived for my first class with the enthusiasm of a self-assured kindergartener, poised for the debut of an academic career with a shiny new lunchbox and Care Bears/Barbie/"Star Wars" backpack.
The class was a "make up" (irony at its best) since I had missed day one and actually turned out to be a private one with artist and co-owner of Healing Forest, Lori Slocomb.
I was tickled to have one-on-one attention with a gifted artist and was sure this was my ticket to ART! We got to know each other through giggles and chatter, discovered we had much in common and then began the lesson.
Suddenly, the clock slowed down. Time seemed to stretch out into layers of forever.
Although I grasped what she was saying, the vine charcoal felt awkward in my hands, the terminology confused me (terms in makeup artistry conflict with those in fine art) and I felt less than proficient at what was supposed to be the simplest of tasks. But, I finished and walked out pumped up for my homework and eager for my next class, which proved to be even more revealing.
This time there were two students – another "make up" class. The assignment was to use negative space to draw a still life rendering of twigs in a crate.
I picked up my pencil with great aplomb, only to be crushed moments later by the noise in my mind.
I could not for the life of me follow the line of one twig. My eyes darted and hurt. I erased and tried again.
I felt my face get hot and tears begin to well in my heavily made-up eyes.
DO NOT CRY! DO NOT CRY!
The heat intensified as I diagnosed myself with ADHD and felt great empathy for kids in school that deal with that challenge.
STAY IN YOUR SEAT.
I was fighting my own instinct to bolt when the going gets tough.
DO NOT RUN! DO NOT RUN!
And suddenly, my heartbeat began to slow. I took deeper, more complete breaths as I realized that this art class was not about "becoming an artist" or learning to draw for me.
No, this was bigger.
This was about conquering my personal demons.
This was about me being OK with not being good at something right away, or at all for that matter.
This was about me sticking things out.
This was about me not being self-critical.
This was about me finding interest in the banal.
This was about learning to focus while being still.
I guess everything I need to know about myself – I learned in art class.
(Note: Wanna learn something about yourself and maybe even gain a new skill? I highly recommend checking out Healing Forest Studio. Owners Lori Slocomb and Lucas Klocke are expanding this fall and re-opening in Downtown Waukesha. Call or email for more info – Lucas is wonderfully patient and thorough with any questions or concerns you might have. Lori is an incredible artist and a patron saint of all art teachers.)
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