the expected and the unexpected

Art, Blog, Creative, Creativity and Art, hilary zaloom

Last Sunday I finally held the first “Sundial Still Life Sunday”.  (Sundial is part of the name because Sundial Wire is the name of the business Jim and I run –see — and because it is the venue for the group since my “studio” is the sunroom at home, about 8′ x 10′ and doubling as the home paperwork-processing center as well — not even big enough for one.)

It has taken me over a year to go from having the idea to actually sending out an email and inviting people.  There were four of us, including one who hadn’t drawn in ages and one who whips lovely paintings out in a flash with seemingly no effort.

I was quite nervous about doing this.  Why?  If it were a knitting club, I would not have been nervous.  And I wanted the sessions to be much like knit nights, just talking, getting to know each other or knowing each other better, giving an opportunity to hang out that was pre-arranged and didn’t require the effort and inertia-banishing of setting up a particular lunch or whatever.  I wanted it to just be relaxing and social and fun.  I did not want it to be like a class, nor have an agenda or incentives for people to push themselves or any instruction or critiques.  And I really didn’t want any more responsibility besides offering a venue and email coordination — I’ve got more responsibility than I want with running a company, employing people, etc.  But I kept feeling like I had to somehow make it enticing and fabulous, which made me anxious.

So I was over-prepared in terms of bringing objects for people to draw and moving tables around and just plain fretting.  I could have/should have just relaxed.

What was interesting to me later was to realize how much more I got from the experience than I had been expecting.  I did get what I was expecting, time to hang out with people I really like.  But there were so many bonuses.  For example, one of the attendees recommended a book by Cat Bennett, The Drawing Club of Improbable Dreams: How to Create a Club for Art.  The book’s format for a drawing club is very different from what I’m aiming for, but interesting, and made me look at her other books on creativity and an art practice.  So I bought them and have gotten a bit of a boost in getting closer to not doubting my abilities and creativity as a result.  Not a bad bonus!

Another one of the attendees and I were talking about how she has a page that she maintains on a well-known publication’s web site, which led to us talking about getting seen on the Internet.  I was recalling Mandy Len Catron’s first TED talk, which I had seen ages ago, which is about her having written an article for the Modern Love column for the NY Times (edited by a neighbor, by the way).  She was interested to see it, so I looked it up and ended up watching it again after I got home and watching her next TED talk, which I had never seen.  And going to her blog, The Love Story Project, which is fantastic.  And a post there, “smart and humble” had links to  an article by Rebecca Solnit, who I had just learned about from Isabel, on the Literary Hub site, which looks amazing.  And more links to other really great literary sites.  That one snippet of conversation led into lots of branches of enjoyment and interest.

Another person brought marbles, which made me remember a gorgeous pastel she’s done that includes some marbles.  I realized I want to find some marbles and draw them, with all their shine and swirl and color, as just pure fun.  Anyone want to go marble shopping?

Watching as one attendee cranked out a completely finished and lovely painting in a couple of hours while I barely managed to put out this 2.5″ x 4.5″scribble, really made me determined to be more free and experimental in my drawing. tiny chickens And watching one person just draw away when she hadn’t done any drawing for ages and ages really encouraged me to not feel so self-conscious about my drawings and just get out there and do it.  So here’s me actually posting a drawing I don’t love, because why not?

So a big thank-you to the people who came on Sunday, and I really mean that.  You brought gifts I imagine you don’t even know you brought.  I just hope you took home some gifts of your own.


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