Swash Your Way to Creativity

“I can’t even draw a stick figure.”

Have you ever said that? Have you ever heard someone say it? It’s usually said with a bit of embarrassed cynicism.

I’ve said it. Guilty as charged! And I believed it, too. From a small, seemingly insignificant event in my early childhood, I somehow got the idea that the ability to draw and paint was limited to people who were “born” with something that I wasn’t born with.

Swash Your Way to Creativity 1

How sad to discover so late in life that it was all a myth—that I could have been sharing the beauty inside me so much sooner.

Dear Reader, YOU and I have beauty inside of us. We have beauty to let out into the world, and this world is in such need of more beauty. Your beauty—no one else’s will do. The door to let it out is simply to acquire the skills.

This is where I got the message wrong during my impressionable years: I wasn’t missing an inborn talent. I simply hadn’t been exposed to the skills I needed.

I discovered painting back in 2015, and pastels were the gateway. I’ve been in love with them ever since!  My thought process was this: “these colors are luscious. I wouldn’t have to learn to draw, just color things in. There aren’t any brushes or strange-smelling liquids. Maybe I could do this!”

So I bought some pastels and some paper and began the exciting journey of discovering that the ability to draw and paint has nothing to do with being “born” with talent and has everything to do with simply dedicating the time to learn the skill sets so that the beauty inside has a portal into the needy world.

What is it that I love about pastels? I love the swashbuckling sound of the pastel traveling over the sanded surface–swish, swash, swoosh! I love that the colors are so brilliant. I love that one swipe of a stick of color is magically a leaf, or a rock or a petal or a cloud or the sparkle in the eye of my beloved puppy. I love that there is no waiting for things to cure or dry or bake. Just swish, swash, swoosh and a painting is begun!

I also love—and perhaps you will, too—that pastels really are great for beginners who’ve never done art before, and who are planning to teach themselves. The supply list to begin is small, the resources for learning on your own are diverse, numerous, and readily available. The medium is extremely forgiving—making a mistake is easily corrected. And in the end, if it turns out this isn’t the medium for you, the pastels are easily re-sold: there are plenty of addicts out there who will gladly pay to take them off your hands!

Guess what? I also finally learned to draw! The principles I learned for painting with pastels are so very similar to those needed for drawing that I was able to learn something I never thought I’d ever be able to do. But I’m living proof that you don’t need to know how to draw to begin painting with pastels – or to give your beauty a doorway!.

This summer I taught my first pastel art class to children. I’m determined to help others to discover the artistic skills to share their beauty with the world: because the world will be impoverished without the art of each one of us.

Why not pick up a pastel and begin to share your beauty with the world? Don’t waste another moment believing in a need to be able to draw a stick man. Discover the beauty inside you. Swish, swash, swoosh!

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3 Responses

  1. How this resonates with me, l was useless at art at school and not encouraged because others in the class could draw. I am 74 and it’s only in these later years that l have allowed myself to “dabble” with painting and have tried water colours, Acrylics and now pastels. How l enjoy “trying” to create something that l am even slightly pleased with. I love animals and dogs and have managed to get some reasonable paintings of them. I joined the latest flower challenger with Unison and have surprised myself with the result and the things l have learnt along the way. Yes nowhere near the great work that some people have turned out but am reasonably happy with my effort.
    I am loving these Unison blogs and have some unison pastels (but not able to afford to buy the bigger sets that l would love to have) however as said in this blog you can make do and yet still turn out some good work so please continue to set out blogs and challenges l for one look forward to gaining more knowledge of a great medium.

  2. How this resonates with me (except for drawing people and portraits which l am waiting to try) but at school when you were not able to draw the subject given with the “paints” or pencil you were unfortunately not encouraged or sadly introduced to pastels.

    It’s only in my later years (74) that l have bought some pastels and given myself a bit of positivity realising that this wonderful medium can help you produce something that is pleasing (if not amazing) but it gives you the encouragement to try to improve and by joining this group with such great blogs, and encouragement l have had the courage to share some of my work and take part in a free tutorial that l amazed myself by completing.

    So thank you Ester for your great piece and to Unison pastels for creating this helpful service (l only wish l had the money to buy more of these lovely pastels) however this medium does give a great choice in cost and really is available to all. So thanks everyone

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