If you think you’ll never be able to afford a piece of original art to hang on your walls, then think again. You can have original art because you can create it yourself. Anyone can learn to draw and will improve with practice. As for painting, unless you’re completely color blind, a study of the color wheel and a few paint-mixing sessions will see you on your way. And if you are a little color blind, well everyone has their own style after all and you will certainly have yours!

Happy Stray Cat
Happy Stray Cat

Once a week some friends and I get together to sketch and paint. We take turns in creating a still life composition to tackle, or at this time of year when the weather is pleasant we attempt an outdoor scene. We’ve been lucky in the past couple of weeks to be invited into some wonderful gardens around camp and it never ceases to amaze me what treasures are to be discovered in the back yards of Dhahran. Some of my painting pals are very talented and have artistic backgrounds but others, like myself, are just enthusiastic and interested in practicing and gaining more skill. It’s a good way of getting out of the house for a while and doing something enjoyable, and there’s always the feeling that you just may produce a masterpiece some day.

Don’t think you have to sign up for expensive lessons in your quest to become an artist. If you have access to the internet then you can learn free on-line. One of my favorite web sites is www.about.com. This site has a wealth of information about absolutely everything, and if you go to www.drawsketch.about.com you will find some excellent free drawing lessons. You can draw with ink and ballpoint pens, chalk, crayons, charcoal, felt pens and pencils. One tip I’ve found very beneficial is to experiment with the largest piece of paper you can find and the softest pencil (6B) and fill the page with pencil strokes to relax the hand before you begin your main sketch.

After you’ve had some drawing practice, you may want to start painting. A British watercolorist, Steve Elliott, has a truly brilliant website in which he includes twenty-four free structured watercolor lessons on how to paint landscapes, introducing different techniques as the course progresses. You will find these lessons very interesting and easy to follow.

Downtown suppliers of artist materials are Jarir’s Book Store, which sells watercolor paints and paper, oils and canvases, pastels and pastel paper, brushes, pencils, charcoal, etc. At the cheaper end of the market, and just as good if you are a beginner, is Zamil’s. They stock a good selection of stationery including pencils and sketch pads, plus brushes, oil paints, watercolors, and pastels.

Just as a little encouragement, I thought you’d like to see one of my recent efforts. The medium used for “Happy Stray Cat” is oil pastels and the scene is a lovely backyard in Dhahran. I’m a great fan of the Impressionists, and when I put this particular piece of “original art” on the wall next to my favorite Monet print my significant other said he couldn’t tell the difference – he did want me to cook his dinner that night though!