Charcoal, oil paints and van Gogh

1“I believe that it is one’s duty to paint the rich and magnificent aspects of nature. We need gaiety and happiness, hope and love.”
– Vincent Van Gogh




10It’s easy to focus on the challenges and barriers that disabled people face when engaging with arts and culture. A big part of my work is to advocate for better access, increased opportunities and improved participation for disabled people in the arts.

8The incredible thing about art is that everyone gets something different out of it. Difference is what we all have in common, and in art – this is especially true.

In the second week of visual and tactile arts workshops at TouchBase SouthEast, the group started to explore their own views on art making, trying out different techniques that they may or may not have before, to see what worked best for each of them.

6One of the things that artists with sensory impairments tell me often, is that traditional visual art practices don’t always work for them, for lots of different individual reasons.

In our arts programmes, we know that there is always a way for anyone to participate – it’s just about getting creative!

The group started with charcoal drawing. The texture of charcoal, and the smell of it is, in itself quite a sensory treat! Charcoal can be good too, for accentuating contrast – both for the artist, and for the audience.


4But, charcoal isn’t for everyone, so the group moved into using oil paints too. Again, oil paints have a really distinctive texture and quality, and for artists who have an interest in exploring colours, they can be a great medium to use.

The final phase tends to involve a tactile quality in Sense Arts programmes, and Saturday was no different. The group used different paper and collaging techniques to build up their van Gogh-inspired flower arrangements into 3-dimensional pieces.


12One of my favourite things about being in an art group is the opportunity to experience other people’s work. It’s something we build into all of our art programmes. It’s that age-old argument about what makes good art ‘good’.

The group finished with a showcase of their work for each other, cementing some of the things they had tried in the session.

I always think it is so important to try a whole lot of different techniques and styles out when making art. Sometimes, you figure out what you do like, by knowing what you don’t!


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