Textas, fine markers, felt tips…….they are the one tool I often tell students to keep in their big drawer (away from their tray that sits under their desk) and save for “special” work. We all know why…. they mark through papers, create a big mess and cover students’ skin! Students are just fascinated with them and LOVE to use them. Of course, I do let them use them quite frequently. We just need to make sure we have the correct quality of the paper. I’m not an art therapist, but I find it interesting that a lot of boys like to cover their page with thick black texta…..
Back to my texta story. So, one day, not so long ago, I was flicking through clip art pictures and trying to find the perfect image for a power point I was creating. I could see some quite simple, yet cute, clip art pictures for sale (and some for free) and thought that the time it took me to search for the perfect picture could be saved by actually drawing the image myself. The one problem is that I’m not an artist! That hasn’t deterred me though (there’s that good old resilience again!).
I had been also motivated to draw as well as the illustrators in the many magazines I had been flipping through such as, ‘Daphne’s Diary.’ The attention to detail is amazing. I could sit there and just look at the pictures all day (the articles are probably good too, but mostly, I’m fascinated with the drawings). I’d love to draw like the artists. This magazine reminds me of some picture books I used to have as a child (Brambly Hedge?). Each picture would tell a thousand stories.
I did Art as a subject throughout high school and in Year 12. I generally received a mix of A’s and B’s. I loved art but I probably didn’t spend enough time on it. To be honest, I was too occupied with socialising….. Being an artist was one of my day dream jobs. The practical part of my personality lead me in other directions though.
So, when I went to the shops one weekend I saw a beautiful and colourful pack of Sharpies (this is just a well-known brand of texta pens or markers). It was $25 and I don’t think I’ve ever spent that much on textas. Paints definitely, but not textas! I purchased a cheapish bad of paper and meandered into the art shop next door to the department store. I wanted to hide and not be assisted. I wasn’t a professional artist and didn’t want to be discovered as a “faker.” I found the pads of paper and quickly walked out. The cheapest was around $30! I didn’t think my drawing skills were worth this just yet, so I decided to stick with my cheap, kids pad.
When I got home I was really excited to open my texta pack and unleash my hidden talents. I was secretly thinking, “This could be it.” I copied a picture from a google search and realised that my drawing was perhaps a tad better than the drawings of the six-year-olds I taught. I had to pay attention to how I coloured in, right down to the direction of the stroke. I tried water colour pencils to blur my lack of skill. It was a slight improvement!
What surprised me was the mindfulness involved with this activity. I couldn’t juggle sending an email, answering the phone or looking away while I was carefully paying attention to where I aimed my felt tip. This is a rarity in my own life. I seem to be forever multitasking. For years, I’ve been too busy with full time work to be enticed into a hobby. I don’t know how people do it. I manage to work full time, look after two kids, a house, exercise a bit, sometimes catch up with friends and family and maybe read a few pages of a book each night (and about half an hour of Netflix). That seems to be pretty “good” for me!
For me though, art has always represented emotions and what I like is always dependent on my mood. It’s a bit like music. I go from Bob Marley to The Muse in a heart beat. I miraculously flicked open one of my magazines as I was getting inspiration to do some more sketches (Audrey Day Puzzle Book) and saw a quote from Pablo Picasso. He sums it up so much better than me:
The artist is a receptacle for emotions that come from all over the place: from the sky, from the earth, from a scrap of paper, from a passing shape, from a spider’s web.
I’m also very inconveniently practical. Some of this has to do with being quite environmentally minded. What would I do with random drawings scattered through a house? Where would I store supplies? What would be the purpose? Is it a waste of resources? It’s not a job, not an income, not eaten, not worn and so on and on. Perhaps using my “art” for clipart purposes, or to decorate my classroom, would be enough of a purpose. Discovering the therapeutic side of it was not planned but so welcome and such a surprise.
I can’t wait to get back to my Sharpies and create some more six-year-old sketches! It will be a great holiday activity too. Watch this space!