How I found “The Way of the Brush”: Part 1: Drawing Forth what is Within

I came to art late in life, and now it IS my life.  I had been shut down as a child in art class. My best friend created perfectly rendered drawings that our art teacher put up as examples in the art room (yes, in those days there was a real art room and art teacher in Elementary School). I knew I could never do THAT. So, instead, I put my creative energy into my Troll colouring book. I guess you could say that is where my first love of Colour began and it has never left me.  How can one not fall in love with Colour when peering into their crayon box?

The Birth of Colour

The Birth of Colour © Lisa Kirk – Pencil Crayon on Paper, 8” x 11”

In my late 20’s I found myself in Art Galleries in Europe and something cracked open. A creative seed, a yearning, a drawing forth…and I secretly sketched in my journal even though I had no idea how to draw. I just needed to.

When I returned home, I drew mandalas in a little journal.( I did not know what mandalas were except a circle.) Everyday I doodled whatever shapes, colours, images that I wanted inside the circle with my lovely prismacolour pencil crayons. Here, I first discovered the wisdom and connection of our bodies to the creative process. I became pregnant and one day I looked back over my drawings. I could clearly see the day I had conceived our first child. Further into my pregnancy, I was taking a pottery workshop and we were glazing and doing designs on the clay. I kept doing these triangular shapes with a circle in them. My teacher said, I bet you are having a boy because that is a very ancient male symbol. In my mandalas, I had been drawing them there too. Some months later I gave birth to my son, Dylan.


Shifting © Lisa Kirk – Acrylic on Wood Panel, 24” x 24”

This finally led me to a workshop with the wonderful Vancouver artist, Gordon Smith, on Cortes Island where we were now living. At this point, I had ventured into one watercolour class and really did not have a clue but I loved the way the Colours played with each other. During our first day with Gordon, he came over to me and gently suggested I look at Emily Carr and her use of colour….the earth tones. He declared mine “licorice allsorts-kind-of-colour” and suggested I try painting like Emily. I loved her work and her use of the earthy colours so I gave it my best go. But it was like trying to put on a pair of pants that are too small; it just did not fit for me.  It was very uncomfortable.

The next morning, as I was getting ready to paint, Gordon quietly came over to me and said, “Yesterday, I made a mistake. You are a Colourist. Go back to painting with your Colours.” He then showed me books of artists like David Hockney that are Colourists and inspired me to follow my heart and feel good about my “licorice allsorts” Colours.

Listen, Listen, The Little Bird Whispers

Listen, Listen, The Little Bird Whispers © Lisa Kirk – Mixed Media on Wood Panel, 14” x 18″

I will never forget that lesson he taught me- to follow what “fits” for me as an artist in my own heart.  And, as a person or teacher, never be afraid to realise you have made a mistake and say so.  Even though I was a newbie painter at that point, he did not treat me any different than those who were in the workshop with years of experience. He made me feel unique and like a “real” artist by giving me the title “Colourist”. That speaks to the generosity of his spirit as a person and teacher. At the end of the workshop, he even gave us all prints of his work. I was pregnant at the time, so he gave me two-one for the baby-to-be as well!

The Tree of Life

The Tree of Life, © Lisa Kirk – Pen and Ink on Paper, 8″ x 11″

My next lesson in learning to trust my own inner artist came when I took a series of drawing classes with Elena Wheeler on Cortes. This is where I fell in love with Line. I fell in love with solid graphite pencils and charcoal and the beauty and simplicity of line, the shades of black, white and grey….and drawing out from within. Here, I learned to find and follow the way of my LineThis is where I decided I wanted to be an artist. After 29 yrs, I had  found a place I could call my own. I had come home. Although I did not know it at the time, this was very healing for me on many levels.

I will be forever grateful to Elena for her open way of teaching. She taught me that there are many ways to do one thing and there are lots of different ways to “look” and “observe”. I guess you could say, she taught me how to see. She taught me that my line did not have to look like everyone else’s. That each of us are different and that is beautiful in its own way. And to this day, I pass that wisdom along to the kids and adults I teach.  To trust our inner Line, our own inner drawing forth and allow it, not block it.

How I Found “The Way of the Brush”:  PART 2 :  Creativity as a Guiding Light

Image Credits
Images © Lisa Kirk
Bio Photo © Sara Kerr

Lisa Kirk Artist Bio

Lisa KirkI grew up in Vancouver and have lived in the Comox Valley since 1992. My wonderful life brings a diverse layer to my art–from nursing in child psychiatry, Playworking at various Children’s Festivals, oyster farming, parenting my now grown children and doing what I love best next to painting–teaching creative process. For me, art is an ongoing exploration and process of listening to my inner guides and responding to my inner and outer worlds. With playful curiosity, I love being open to what new surprise might present itself on the canvas or paper. I can very often be found teaching adults and children in my home studio and school district. Last year, I was very honored to be awarded the Nakeestla Award in the Juried Members Show at Comox Valley Art Gallery as well as being invited to participate in the Sooke Fine Arts Show. I have also received an Award of Excellence for drawing and an Honorable Mention for painting through the Comox Valley Community Arts Council.

Blog / Website: Lisa Kirk Artist & Facilitator

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