What Does Easy Look Like?

How does it feel to make art in flow? Can we create from a sense of ease and from a position of groundedness in the very moment? And if so, what’s that like for us? Can we hold onto all of the skill we’ve been learning, and without thinking about it, let it pour through us and into the work?  I know we can.

Student work

When we learn new skills in art making we become very focused on them.  We look and think hard about what the light is doing and where it’s coming from, or at the way one muscle tucks in under another in the figure drawing, or at the relationship and balance of our color palette. We make art with a very deliberate focus.  And slowly, over time, sometimes months and sometimes years, we can forget about the exact anatomy or specific value of a shadow because we have come to know it.  We’ve done it enough that it has become a part of us and we can rely on that knowledge to come through us and into our work as we move toward ease.

But what if we don’t wait for the period of “mastery” to be complete before we find ways to slip into a comfortable way of working – a way of working where we are less critical of ourselves and more open to the events that are unfolding?

A student who came to me as a total beginner made the pieces above.  These were from the final session of a five-week class.  The first drawing was a warm up using her non-dominant hand, and the second was her prolonged study after the warm up.

Look for fluidity, movement, ease, and joy in the drawings.  These are things that spilled out from the student while she was working.  You could say this was some of her true nature that day coming into the work.  The formal skills that she learned over the five weeks – light, value, a sense of surface, and of place and shape are all there in the drawings – with the ease.

In my drawing classes I’m giving my students both the information they need to build skill, and the opportunity to find flow.

Melissa Weiss