Tuesday, 2 August 2011

Drawing, concentration, compliments and working outside.

Summer is full of Festivals in Ireland and while the emphasis of many of them is music, there are plenty that include other arts and fun for all. For the past few years my ceramicist friend Kieran Whitelaw and I have occupied the Arty Corner of a lovely weekend of laid-back activities in  Scariff, East Clare. With a gazebo pretending to keep the rain off we were surrounded by a swarm of happy children, making clay figures with him and drawing portraits with me. Full-on, funny, delicious.

One of the lovely things about working in a busy environment like this, where there is LOTS going on to attract attention (from the men on ridiculously high stilts, knocking on upstairs windows to give the occupants a fright, to sky diving, to live music, magicians, fire-eaters, boat trips busy busy busy) is how engrossed the children become when engaging with clay or pencils. They simply shut out everything else, focus on their hands and settle in to their own world. We can learn much, from children. The capacity to close off outside distraction,  the stepping out of time, even for only a few minutes to focus, is the secret to letting go of stress. Trust me -  a child showed me. Some children at this festival sat for 30 minutes, totally engrossed in their drawing, blissfully unaware of the noise and bustle while their parents shuffled their feet, anxious to move on... And when they finally finished, watching them come back to the Now was like seeing them come up from the basement in a Lift, slowly slowly reintroducing the sensory elements around them, through sound, then sight, like they're waking from a dream. How marvelous - they had a stress-free magical private dream, right there. 

But here's what I noticed, regarding Praise. The thing the smaller children loved the best, was having their faces painted at the table next door, then being admired themselves, for the piece of art that they had become. It didn't matter if they were a pirate or a fairy princess, the look on their faces when I praised their drawings, and told them that THEY looked great was worth a million dollars. Whereas, they'd all looked fabulous already. We adults need to try harder to make the children feel Great. For they are.

Very thirsty work!
The clay figures are being exhibited in a gallery in Limerick later this year. 

Next Up - Water Colour workshop, Dublin
Intensive Portfolio Course and Monthly Monday. 
Email julie@juliedouglas.co.uk for info. 

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