Making Lemonade

 In art, Blog, Painting, tips

Making Lemonade

By Shelby Marzoni

You have probably hearArtists draw and paint during the Studio Coaching sessions.d the expression, “When life hands you lemons, make lemonade.” When things don’t go exactly your way, flip the script somehow to optimize your joy. In the words of Project Runway’s Tim Gunn, “Make it work!” Sometimes an art class you sign up for turns out to be a “lemon.”

Maybe you thought you’d be painting on canvas and you end up drawing on colored paper. Perhaps the only photo reference left in the floral class you’d been looking forward to is a calla lily, and your mean third grade teacher’s name had been Ms. Lily. Sometimes you have an “off day,” and try as you might, you can’t finish your project or you end up creating something you want to put immediately into the trash bin. Possibly your instructor is having an existential crisis and doesn’t pay enough attention to you. Who knows? You could even be asked to draw a lemon!

You’ve paid for the class. You’re stuck there for three hours. Maybe you’ve even bought a series of classes. Don’t despair!

Tried-and- true tips for making lemonade:

1. Give up and just decide that you’re going to make BAD ART! Usually, when we set an intention of not caring, we tend to loosen up, have more fun, and often make better art then when we are trying hard to create something precious.

2. If you are not receiving the amount or kind of input from your instructor that you were expecting, engage your classmates. Get to know their names and ask them to talk about themselves. Chances are, you’ll learn as much from talking to your fellow students and watching them practice as you will from your instructor. And you’ll be giving them the attention they need, as well. Who knows, you might make a few new friends!

3. Challenge yourself to learn as many things as you can and write them down during the class. Shoot for a list of 20 things. See how many drawing fundamentals, techniques, art history, and the local art scene you hear from others during the class. Also list observations about yourself and how you respond to the project. Many times, people find that their resistance to a project breaks in the middle of the class, and they suddenly feel happy! Note what triggers this switch for you and use it in the future. Most likely, your next class will be a winner!

While we have no power over the sourness of the lemon, we have the final say as to how much sugar we add to the lemonade. Who knows? With some extra practice and a little more time in the kitchen, you’ll be making lemon bars before you know it.

Check out Shelby’s writing here.

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A group of artists sit below the portraits they drew.