Posts Tagged ‘Saturday Morning Drawing Club’


Cat Bennett

The Confident Creative: Drawing to Free the Hand and Mind, by artist Cat Bennett, was the subject of yesterday’s post. Today I get to welcome Cat Bennett as a guest blogger here at Boston Art Images.

Thanks, Cat, for sharing the following thoughts with us.


It’s All Good!

Every Saturday morning I teach drawing. I begin every class with an exercise in which we can’t be judged—like scribbling or drawing upside down. These explorations level the playing field because there’s no right way to scribble and because no one does a totally accurate drawing upside-down. It’s a way of practicing, seeing what’s possible, focusing our minds and training our eyes.

It’s so important to see drawing and art as a practice. Keep a pencil and sketchbook on hand and set aside a few minutes every day. Showing up every day builds momentum—there’s no other way. It teaches us to know ourselves, grow our strengths and enter the realm of pure creativity with ease. We all get so screwed up from our years of being evaluated and graded in school. We sometimes wonder whether we’re good enough or if our work matters. We often think that every time we put pencil to paper we have to do something “good.” Trying to do something “good” can stop creativity in its tracks. To be really creative, and to draw with confidence, we have to make mistakes and go where we’ve never been before. That’s messy.

Creativity is an organic process—one thing leads to another.

Of course, when we’re drawing, we can notice those niggling thoughts that drift through our minds. Especially the ones that say, “This is terrible!” or “I’ll never be Picasso!” It’s true, we will none of us be Picasso or Damien Hurst. Whatever we think of other artists, we can only be ourselves. That’s freedom! Negative thoughts come to us all and we can just let them go. We might notice too that a great artist like Matisse left plenty of mistakes in this work. He knew that the strength in his work would overcome any weakness. It will in ours too.

When we make a habit of drawing, it can liberate our creative selves by giving us a chance to reconnect with pure exploration. We’ll soon bring the attitude of inquiry to all of our creative work. When we do this, we soon connect with this beautiful free part of ourselves again. And that’s where art comes from.


Thanks to the very creative Paula Ogier, for her beautiful review of the book and for giving me this space to add a few words!


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If you’re looking to give your creative spirit a fortifying shot in the arm, and frankly, even if you aren’t, I recommend artist Cat Bennett’s The Confident Creative: Drawing to Free the Hand and Mind (Findhorn Press, Scotland, 2010). Upon immediate inspection, it’s a lovely book to behold, generously laden with drawings and paintings by Ms. Bennett, her contemporaries and her students. The images meander from quirky to dreamy, from humorous to contemplative, and from sparse to luscious. The even sweeter surprise is the simplicity and kindness of this book’s message: creativity need not be about producing a final and polished product. It is inherent in all of us, arising quite willingly with openness and acceptance of its distinctive voice. Reading it, I remembered a time in my life, decades ago, when I would get together with a friend for the evening, put on music, and the two of would just begin to draw. Often, there was no specific goal as I was being drawn myself down a path, and sometimes one that materialized in what someone many years later described to me as a “happy accident.”

I have happy accidents a lot in my art, and I hope to never stop having them. I’m not against being guided by an artistic vision — I typically am when I’m working on something — but I’ve learned the wisdom of letting the road twist and turn when something unexpectedly moving happens.

The Confident Creative offers drawing exercises to loosen up our occasionally rigid minds, such as drawing upside down (the image is upside down, that is, not you), drawing with your non-dominant hand, drawing with shapes, or drawing from your imagination. They are not new ideas, but gently and simply explained, they have the ability to open up space in the mind and let the reader find the relaxation in unedited creative exploration. My experience is that something profound happens in this space, and I like the respectful way that The Creative Confident encourages this process. In some ways I see it as a kind of prayer book, affirming the joy to be found in being alive and confident of our own expression.

Cat Bennett lives in the greater Boston area and teaches drawing in her “Saturday Morning Drawing Club” at the Arsenal Center for the Arts in Watertown, MA. Her career as a professional illustrator began more than 25 years ago at The National Film Board of Canada. She went on to make short animations for CBC Sesame Street and Nickelodeon TV. Her illustration client list includes The Boston Globe, The New York Times, The Atlantic Monthly, Time Magazine, and many others. For me, it’s touching to see that someone with so much drawing experience under her belt still understands the beauty of letting the hand follow where the mind and spirit wander.

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