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Our Relationship with Art #3


First Lesson, First Year of Art Academy, Classic Drawing Class

A very short middle-aged woman with a French straight-cut hairstyle, black-framed glasses, slightly protruding front teeth, and a very stern “school-ma’am” look, stood in front of a terrified, confused group of young art students. I previously took drawing classes prior to my acceptance to the academy with my encouraging beloved art teacher, so I wasn’t totally in the dark about the “how and what” of classic drawing. Still, I wasn’t up to par with some of my mates that studied art in high school. We all showed up with our portfolios filled with drawing papers of various kinds, pencil boxes filled to the brim with “B” pencils 6-12, charcoals and ink, chose a seat and easel that was placed in a circle around what appeared to be the place for a model or a still life. The lights were dimmed except for the spots directed to the center of the circle. After an hour of introductions and a list of “do’s & don’ts”, she proceeded to give us our first exercise: on a sheet of paper, with a piece of charcoal, we were to place a dot on the paper. Anywhere, any size, any shape on that sheet of paper. Then, she left the room. The confused lot that we were, we looked left, then right, hoping to get an answer on how to proceed from our neighbors in distress. The exercise was simple. For some reason we made it complicated, discussing for the next half hour “what did she mean?”. Our instructress reentered the hall, asking if we did what she requested. We very sheepishly responded that we weren’t very sure what she meant. She told us that was precisely what she wanted to happen: the discussion on “what she meant & what to do”. We were 27 students in the class. 27 ways (at least) to put that dot on the paper. There were no rights and wrongs. Just the basic guideline of putting a dot on a piece of paper. All else was open to interpretation by the artist. The first lesson was on visual storytelling. Each and every one of us is a unique individual, with our own unique individual way of telling a story, our story. Each line, dot color tells a part of that story.

“Dragon-Fly”, Digital Painting, Printable. @All Rights Reserved to Barbara Adler 2021

What did we all take from that lesson?

  1. Everybody is scared of a white piece of paper. It is only a white piece of paper. We can always tear it up, throw it out, recycle and replace it with a fresh piece of paper.

  2. We can do whatever we want within the given guidelines. There is no “right or wrong”. There is plenty of space for interpretation.

  3. Our personal, original, visual story begins with a single dot/line that defines the future composition and narrative.

  4. To create we must first and foremost believe truly in ourselves. There is no room for self-doubt. It is counter-productive. When we believe in ourselves and in our art, our message/story is loud and clear. The audience may like it or not. That’s already a question of taste.

So, up till now, I spoke about attitude and understanding from the artist's side, but what about that sometimes uncomfortable feeling, not totally understanding, that a spectator/art appreciator feels when standing in front of, appreciating, appraising, thinking of buying art?

“SHELL”, Acrylic on Canvas Board 36/28cm, 14.4"/11"@All Rights Reserved to Barbara Adler 2021

My Advice?

Go with your initiative, your gut feeling, with your associations. The process is totally subjective just like the process that the artist goes through.

What do the colors, lines, and forms do to you/ mean to you?

What feeling do you get?

What story does the painting tell you?

Can you identify with the story?

Is it a “must-have” or a “nice-to-have” or just “interesting”?

Does it have aesthetic value for you?

Can you imagine it in a certain space?

Everybody needs art. There is Art for everyone’s state of mind, desires, and tastes. Take a break, reflect and delve into some of my art, to my stories.

All the works on this blog are for sale and are Barbara Adler originals. I love talking about my art, so feel free to DM/contact me regarding my art and possibly making it yours.

See more of my art on my website:

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