Hands On

Hands On section header 2
It’s my way to creative learning – hands on!

I’m hoping that this will be a place where I can draw together all the creative strands that fill my days. Drawing, pastel painting, and now watercolours. And the years of photography, that are now intertwining with painting.

I’m a ‘hands on’ kind of person – it’s how I learn, and how I feel most creative. It’s taken me a lifetime to really understand this simple fact … I must be the world’s slowest learner! Only now, as I embark on my latest ‘hands on’ adventure, can I look back and understand how that thread has remained running through my life. If I am to understand something I need to DO it. Learning to cook, or how to read a map – it is the doing that will stay with me, not the recipe books or manuals. Give me a camera and I want to learn Manual Mode, not let the computer do all the work!

My artistic ‘adventure’ began when I was struck down with PVS (Post Viral Syndrome) the 1980s version of Long Covid. I had to find a way to handle being bed-bound and barely able to stagger to the bathroom.
Learning to draw – I decided it was an opportunity to learn to draw – something I could do while confined to bed.
Learning pastel painting – From drawing the next step was to add colour, and so pastels were added (still no water to mess up the bed)

Then after a bad relapse I decided I needed to learn computers – so the art work took a back seat. I started a website, learned emailing, and built up a really big community website all about small hand-held computers (the kind I could use in bed!)
Through being a webmaster and running a website I found myself using a camera … and it evolved into using photography to express the creativity I longed for. As I became more able to move about the house, and even walk outside a little, I found it was easier to shoot rather than paint – I could accomplish more with my limited energy!

Talking Digital Photography – I’ve spent several years with my cameras, learning what different lenses can do, and how they can help me create images that I love. And of course I need to use a desktop computer too, just as the original photographers used a dark room to process their negatives.
And that is where I find myself increasingly uneasy. I can run my images through all manner of programs or iPad/smartphone ‘apps’ and they will tranform my images into magical alternative worlds. How do they do it? I want to do it myself, to understand the process, to be ‘hands on’ with my images. Some of the simplest apps will ‘render’ my images as an oil painting or a watercolour.

Learning Watercolour painting – I’ve resisted, but finally I confess that I want to be ‘hands on’ and paint those images myself, with real paints, paintbrushes and paper. And so I have started the next step in my ongoing artistic education that I never had at school! I have so many photographs, so many images in my graphics archives … can I find the skills to make them into the images I see in my imagination? And the medium that draws me in is watercolour.
There are so many books on watercolour painting, it can be overhwelming. Where to begin? The first small book I found, decades ago, is by Ettori Maiotti. It described his own journey which was formed around the study of watercolour artists who had inspired him.
So I have formed my own journey around my greatest inspiration – Paul Cezanne. More than any other artist, he is the one who ‘sings’ to me with his watercolour sketches.

Flickr holds my online Photo Gallery
© 2021 Elisa Liddell