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At the Source of Inspiration

My drawing history is the usual: as a child drawing was my favourite hobby and I could spend countless hours immersed in the world of drawing, not hearing or seeing anything around me. My promising hobby stopped during school years, since the school art classes rarely offered scintillating inspiration. I went in search for inspiration on the course ”In the Garden – an Intensive Course in Drawing”, because independent drawing just didnt’t take wind. You can certainly start with white copy paper and a HB stub you dug out of your pencil case, but one can open up a whole new world by simply getting to know different sorts of paper and hardness of pencils. When looking for inspiration, the subject matter is of primary importance. If it doesn’t inspire you, waiting for an excellent result is futile. As our course teacher Eeva-Maija Priha noted: when you force your doing it shows and it doesn’t look good.

The weekend started with an overview into the history of drawing plants. Simultaneously we got to see the teacher’s own works and diary-like sketchbooks. We briefly familiarized ourselves with drawing equipment by experiementing and asking questions. On Satuday morning our small, but wildly enthusiastic group met in front of the Winter Garden. The place was ideal and charmed us by its scents alone. We started by doing quick sketches of trees outdoors, after our teacher first demonstrated the method. The most difficult thing about drawing plants and scenery is making the abundace plain. How to bring out the essence of a tree without being too detailed? For this problem quick sketching seemed like an excellent learning method. Eeva-Maija adviced us to pick a simple model at first, even a single leaf, so indoors I picked a branch, which appealed to me with its curving forms. For the rest of the day I sketched details of a luscious clivias. At the end of the day it was interesting to see others’ works and hear what kind of feelings arose in the students. The teacher said that we each had out own, unique line and that it really showed in the works.

If Saturday seemed like a fumbling prelude, on Sunday we really got going. This time we went to the Kaisaniemi Botanic Garden and started the day by doing quick sketches of plants. It was surprisingly fun and efficient: the eye quickly learned to pick out the essentials. After this the subject was free. I chose a pond of water lilies as a challenge, to learn how to simplify. The abundance of the subject matter tired me out pretty quickly, so for the rest of the day I focused on quick sketches. The best works turned out to be those I thought I would only sketch in passing.

The sun caressed us for the whole weekend and brought its own additions into our drawing with the ever changing lights and shadows. We had lunch outdoors in the sunshine while discussing art. Eeva-Maija was a lovely and supporting teacher, and she circled around encouraging everyone. The course was aptly informal, we each got to pick our subjects and places accoring to our preferences. If one wished, it was possible to go to a place hidden from view, if someone felt disturbed by surrounding people and curious looks. Creative doing is most fun when it sucks you in completely. The surrounding world disappears and other things lose their meaning when what you are doing is interesting enough. Time passes by more quickly than usual, but without the sense of hurry. Even eating can easily be forgotten.

”In the Garden – an Intensive Course in Drawing” turned out to be the crown jewel of my spring courses. I got a concentrated dose of inspiration with it. I found some unexpected aspects of myself as a drawer and my inner critic was silenced: you don’t have aspire for a great outcome all the time. When one draws freely, without thinking too much, the outcome may turn out to be a positive suprise. One’s thoughts about drawing became surprisingly clear during such a short course. I found a new sense of perception and, most importantly, a new point of view: how to look at things and what to choose for portrayal. One doesn’t need to stick to only one style and one can draw the same subject in various ways. In addition to the joy of learning new things the course put me in a good mood. An aesthete like me could scarcely think of anything better than informal and relaxed drawing in a beautiful and fragrant environment. Inspired by the course I may also in the future be found in the midst of the verdancy of gardens, immersed in my sketchbook and dreams.