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Seeing Beauty in Imperfection

Updated: Mar 28

In my regular sketching class recently we were drawing our hands, a great exercise in working from life -after all our hands are probably the most accessible thing on us and always there to be drawn. After an hour spent closely observing ourselves it struck me how many of us were so critical about own owns hands 'haggard, wrinkly, ugly, stumpy, puffy, knobbly ' were just some of the adjectives being thrown around.

But I've found that when you start to observe with wonder and curiosity the hand becomes a thing of beauty. The intricate structure of the bones beneath the skin, the criss-cross pattern of lines, the scars and liver spots are all fascinating. At the end of the session I felt that each person's drawing told an honest and intimate story of them.

I've been painting a few more self portraits from life recently, they are mostly unfinished, mainly because the light changed so I had to stop.

Oil on canvas paper

It can be a bit depressing having to face up to the well-worn person staring back at me from the mirror. But once I started to look beyond the imperfections and really see the shapes and colours I was quite in awe of myself! The beautiful hollow curves of the eye sockets, the geometric shapes around the mouth formed by the smile lines and the appealing change of flesh tones from warm pinks to greeny greys on the chest. I spent much time over the last couple of weeks just appreciating and depicting all these wonderful observations.

Oil on canvas paper and oil pastels on Pastel mat

Instead of looking at the world with judgement I've learnt to see like an artist. When I draw and paint from life now I try not to ask myself- 'Is it pretty or ugly/wrinkly or smooth' but instead just marvel at the wonder of Mother Nature and her perfectly imperfect design of the human form.

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