Monday, 30 August 2010

Art at School - Guest Post by Ulla Hennig

Ulla Hennig lives in Berlin, Germany, where she works at the University of the Arts; she is responsible for its website, as well as supporting and training others in computer use. She was initially trained as a teacher and her interest in computers, as far back as the '80s and '90s, led her to help older people with searching the internet and email. Ulla describes herself as a 'hobby photographer' and it was initially through my blog and her wonderful photographs in her online Zazzle store that Ulla and I became friends. Her knowledge of Photoshop, and how to get the best from it, is prodigious and now that she has started to draw again, she makes full use of it to enhance some of her drawings and 'create products' for her Zazzle Store

Ulla has kindly agreed to write about a subject that is dear to my heart - the shedding of her inhibitions that had prevented her from reaching her potential as an artist!

Art at School - Ulla Hennig

My three weeks vacation is over now. It was filled with creative activities. I now know that I love to draw, paint (yes, I actually began to color my drawings with watercolor pencils!) and to write. I have joined art communities like and

I have discovered my inner artist, and I am having regular appointments with her.

I loved to draw when I was a child: animals, cartoons. My family encouraged me, but then...there were those art lessons at school! You had to follow a strict syllabus, and drawing was - as far as I remember - only a tiny part of it. You had to do this color circle and you had to fill it out without going over the edges. You had to paint the story of “Odysseus at the Giant’s cave”, and you had to do it using a certain set of colors (all kinds of dark colors and purple).

Art at school was no fun. There was no place for my creativity, and of course it was no place for encouragement. I remember once having created a painting which the teacher accepted. He did it with the words, “A blind hen sometimes finds a grain of corn” - no comment on that.

When I left school I had the impression that I had no creative abilities. During my studies at the university I had no time (or thought that investing time in drawing and painting would not be worth the time). Only now, in my 50s, I rediscovered those activities, due to the encouragement of some friends, some of them living in my hometown, Berlin, and one friend living in Wales.

I am glad to be on my way, but what about all those whose belief in their creativity has been killed in school by the way art is being taught there? And why does it have to be taught that way? What are your experiences?

You may be interested in visiting Ulla's blog and her Zazzle store. You can also find Ulla Hennig on facebook and Twitter.


Country Mouse Studio said...

Oh Ulla, don't give up. I knew from very young I had no "natural talent" that I saw some people display but I really enjoyed it and didn't want to quit.

Now people are using art for therapy, for pain management and for all sorts of healing.
When I get lost in a painting, I can leave all my troubles aside for a while and I come away a much better person.

I took courses and learned to draw like someone else which was no help, then finally, I found a book which said we don't need to learn how to draw but how to see.

In order to do that you draw the picture upsidedown,
don't draw the actual thing but draw the space around it.
Those were my two most difficult but most helpful lessons I learned.

Sorry, this is so long but I wanted to encourage you. You're doing so well, just keep at it and don't let anyone discourage you.

Ulla Hennig said...

Country Mouse Studio,
thank you for your comment and your encouraging words. Art has become so important for me (either the "normal" one with pencil and paper or the digital one) that I'll stick to it, even now with a full work day. But I would not have arrived at that state without all the encouragement from other people, and in special from Judy here. I think she's great in encouraging people to leave their comfort zone without telling them what to do.

Jean said...

Ulla, I really enjoyed your post and your drawings!
I only took 4 years of Art and was a professional picture framer for years. I have seen all sorts of artwork...the great, good,not so good, and the ugly. That said, you do have a great talent and I hope you continue to create!
Even though my medium is different (photography) I feel your message applies to "all" artists.

Judy is great at encouraging one to continue with their art. I am very blessed to have met her.

Ulla Hennig said...

thanks so much for your comment! yes I will continue to create. It is like going on an adventure trip: it is fun, it makes you scary (sometimes), but it is wonderful.

Jan Scott Nelson said...

Great to see this here, Ulla - and I KNOW you're not giving up - you're an inspiration to this would-be, kind of artist, who had an appalling arts education involving nasty paper and brown sludge!
And I too feel blessed to have 'found' Judy :)

Judy Adamson said...

I've been keeping quiet because this is Ulla's post but must say that I appreciate your kind comments about my 'encouragement'. It's just that I hate 'waste' in any form, but particularly when it's 'wasted' potential!I firmly believe that most of us are capable of far, far more than we think we are.