jod5I can’t remember not drawing. Over the years I have put a lot of thought into the whys and wherefores of this delicious activity, especially when I started to teach drawing to others. Trying to explain how I see things and helping other people to enjoy the thrill of their lines actually capturing what they see still gives me pleasure. So here I have a blog – and I can, I hope, help you to discover the joy of drawing too.

Drawing is a skill that – I insist – can be taught to almost anyone, as long as they are prepared to put the practice in. They may or may not go on to become competent ‘artists’, but they will have learnt something of enormous and possibly life-changing importance. Being able to represent things around you with any degree of accuracy connects you to life in a totally different way, and it’s an experience that deepens with practice. The necessary concentration overrides your troubles and To Do lists, and time seems to become strangely elastic. In this it has some similarity to other forms of self-expression, such as music, dance, creative writing and even praying. All you need is paper, a pencil (and maybe an eraser), and you need never be bored again!

jod1Train sketch

Drawing is such a simple, healthy way of having fun that it’s a shame that everyone doesn’t want do it. Or maybe they do?
It’s a sad fact that millions of children are put off drawing by a few misguided words and are convinced ever afterwards that they are ‘not artistic’. I have lost count of the amount of people who tell me that they always wanted to draw but were told that they couldn’t. One man in his 80’s burst into tears at our first drawing session when he realised that he could draw after all; he told me that his Kindergarten teacher, Miss Simpson (he even remembered her name!) had laughed at his drawing of a lemon and he jod3had not drawn since, but always longed to. How sad is that?

Drawing comes more easily to some children than to others, of course, but it is a skill that can be taught in a very structured yet simple way. It’s really a matter of learning how to see three-dimensional reality as a jigsaw pattern of lines and shapes. No-one would expect to write a book without learning the rules of grammar, or to play an instrument without the basics of music theory; jod4why should we expect to be able to ‘express ourselves’ artistically with no structure or direction to help us?  I don’t think it’s enough to plonk a still life in front of students and then tell them to draw it while I come round and tell them where they have gone wrong……. I like to explain how our brains are seeing one thing and our eyes another, and show people exercises and techniques to get results that really amaze them.
But more of that next time……….


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