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There is nothing wrong with doodling in a cartoony way, or using symbolic figures to represent reality, but being able to draw things so that they look and feel ‘right’ is really satisfying. It’s not actually that hard to learn either. It just takes a drastic adjustment to the way we see things, and then everything changes.

I think it’s a shame that the majority of people say that they wish they could draw but were never any good at it. Or that they loved it at school but have not drawn since.

photo 3 (7)The thing is that everything looks so easy when an expert does it. Have you ever tried to whirl dough like a pizzaiolo? Ride a monocycle? Spin a lassoo? We are not born with these skills, any more than we are born able to walk or talk. We learn them through copying people around us that have already mastered the skills, by trial and error, failure, success and determination. How many times does a baby fall down and get up again before it learns to walk? How much babble does it produce before the first words form? They just don’t give up, do they? And we don’t laugh at them for trying and failing either; we encourage them and we applaud when they succeed. Every parent wants their child to walk and talk, so these skills are actively encouraged from birth.photo 4 (3)

We laugh at their funny drawings though, and we say ‘well what’s this meant to be?’

The urge to draw and make marks is something we are born with, so all children do it. It’s an innate method of self-expression along with speaking, walking, singing and dancing. It’s what makes us human. We want to ‘fit in’ and be part of the society we are born into.

Driving a car is an incredibly difficult skill to learn. Steering round a corner, changing gear, indicating and being aware of other traffic all at once seems completely impossible at first. With practice we can do all those things (except indicating, in Malta) – and sing to the radio at the same time.

Image (6) lrI think it’s strange that people seem to think that drawing is a gift you either have or haven’t got. No one would expect to compose a symphony without knowledge of music and the instruments involved. Or write a novel without starting with the alphabet, rules of grammar, language etc. Why should we expect to draw or paint any better than we did as children without learning the basic skills?Image (7) lr

It looks easy when an expert draws, of course, but that expert started somewhere. Some children have a gift for seeing differently and they find drawing easier. That is a skill that can be taught and learnt. After that it comes down to practice and practice and more practice!

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About Jeni Caruana

Jeni was born in England and studied at Uxbridge, Hull and Harrow Art Colleges before settling in Malta in 1977. She subsequently worked as a graphic designer and followed a post-Diploma course at Malta College of Art. Jeni has held regular solo exhibitions of her works and participated in numerous joint, group and collective exhibitions in Malta and abroad, representing Malta in UK, USA, Sardinia, Rome, Tunisia, Libya and Norway. Paintings now hang in many public and private collections. --- Works cover a wide variety of subjects and media, from landscapes to Prehistoric Temples, sand to ceramics, watercolour and acrylics to wooden sculptures. They are always based on good drawing and keen observation and always started on location or from live models. Intense study of the human figure has resulted in her ability to capture fleeting glimpses of people in motion. Visually expressing the emotional effects of music on the senses, her ‘musician’ paintings are a favourite subject. --- Jeni has been teaching drawing and watercolour techniques to adults since 1995. She regularly runs courses and workshops in drawing and watercolour for adult beginners and improvers, specialised courses in life drawing, watercolour techniques, weekend workshops and painting outings and also art for self-expression, meditation and relaxation. --- For more information please contact; Studio Address: - “Dar Il-Mistrieh”, - 15, Old Church Street, - Manikata - MLH 5202