Wednesday, January 23, 2013

The Art of Sign Language and Learning

When drawing from what you see, you have to forget what you think the subject looks like.  No matter how many times you have drawn a hand, you must always look at it without assumptions, as if you have never seen one before.  Only in that state of mind can you see it for what it truly is in that position, angle, and lighting.  Drawing is a process of constant discovery, a great analogy for how to live life.

Here is a sneak peek of a detail of my 30" x 53.5" drawing, which you will be able to see March 3rd, 4pm, at the opening of my solo show, "Cut It Out" at the Bay County Public Library.

I learned something about myself this week.  I realized how much I love to learn.  Here is how I figured that out:

One week ago today I was killing time in Books by the Sea, a used book shop.  I saw a sign language dictionary and started flipping through it.  The sign language dictionary is the only dictionary you will find with a picture for every word.  As an extremely visual person, I found myself drawn to each illustration, and fascinated by the motions of each sign.  Eager to play with my new find, I asked my husband to give me a sentence, so I could learn how to sign it.  He said, "Today is full of art."  Excited, I said, "okay!" and went off and learned the new fun sentence in no time.  After that, I was hooked.  In the past week I have watched 11 online sign language lessons, each about 45 minutes long.  I have also looked up dozens of other words.  In just a week, I have learned between 200 and 300 signs!

As with many other of my current interests, in the past I never thought I would care to learn sign language.  But now it makes so much sense.  I'm visual, and unconsciously talk with my hands a lot.  I signed a bit while on a panel for creative people called, "River Readings" on Saturday.  During lunch, one of the audience members commented on how he noticed my hands even before I signed.  He thought they were beautiful and especially expressive.  I've never been very good with words, so maybe my hands try to make up for that by doing more of the descriptions for me.

No, I don't know any deaf people.  But now, if I come across a deaf person, I am able to communicate with them.  I can now communicate (slowly, since words I don't know I would have to finger-spell) with a whole other large population of people.

While speaking at the "River Readings" conference, I realized that I love to learn.  It seemed so obvious, but I never thought about it.  I often miss learning all the time in art school, I still enjoy learning new mediums in art, and I often pick up new interests to learn

I made a quick list of things I have learned in art, and then non-art things I have learned since graduating college.  I was surprised at how much I came up with!  Maybe you have learned more things than you realize, too.  Perhaps you could share your list of things you have learned in the comments!

Mediums of art I have learned:

  • Drawing: graphite, charcoal, colored pencils, oil pastels, chalk pastels, conte crayons, ink, scratchboard, wood-burning
  • Painting: oil, acrylic, watercolor
  • Printmaking: linoleum, silkscreen
  • 3D: ceramics, figure sculpture
  • Photography: black and white darkroom photography, digital photography
  • Paper cutting

Non-art that I have learned at least the basics of, if not much more:

  • Piano
  • Singing
  • Swing dancing (east coast, lindy, some blues)
  • Musical Saw
  • How to run a business
  • Curation
  • Graphic Design
  • Framing
  • Yoga
  • Beginnings of sign language

Learning itself is exhilarating, fun, and has amazing benefits for your brain, including preventing Alzheimer's and dementia.  The wise man admits he knows nothing.  We should all be forever open-minded, and learning.

Inspiration Source #11:  Sign Language!  If you're interested in learning, I suggest this site.  There are a lot of resources, including two full semesters of lessons.  Each come with a video, vocab list, practice sentences, and more.

Thank you so much for visiting!



  1. I’m wondering how I might be notified whenever a new post has been made. I’ve subscribed to your RSS feed which must do the trick! Have a great day! languageprestige

    1. Hey Alex, that should do the trick! I will be posting a new blog within the next day or two, so if you don't receive it, please let me know. Thanks! -Heather


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