When you look at Tracy Boon’s artwork, it’s hard to believe she had no idea she could draw, until a stressful period in her life sent her searching for something new.
Towards the end of 2016, I was feeling pretty tired and burnt out. There’d been a lot of stuff happening in my work and personal life, and I really felt I needed to bring some balance into life again.
I like to be creative, so I wanted to do something that was artistic and fun. I’d never done art before—I didn’t even study it at school. I thought, ‘what have I got to lose, let’s go. Even if everyone laughs at me, at least I’m doing something different that’s creative and will hopefully be fun.’
There’s a place called Art Metro in Christchurch. They have classes at different times of the day or night, and different teachers. You pretty much say what you want to do—whether it’s sketching or painting—and they put you in a class with a teacher. I saw that there was a class starting, so I put my name down.
I was really nervous. In the back of my head I was thinking, ‘I’ve got no idea what I’m doing’. Before the first class starts you know there are beginners, but there are also people who have been doing it for years. I was like, ‘What if everyone laughs at me?’
But actually I laughed at myself quite a lot. They got us to do some really basic things. But the first couple of classes focused more on technique—What is shading? What is technique?—all that sort of stuff. It was scary but I enjoyed it.
I liked being somewhere that wasn’t all about my job, and the people I could meet there knew nothing about me—that was quite nice.
I had no idea I was capable of drawing like this. I’m still not a hundred percent sure how to put the feeling into words.
I would look at a picture and I couldn’t connect with the fact that I had done it. I’d look at something, and even though it looked pretty good to me, it wasn’t until other people said, ‘Hey that’s really cool ... ’ It was probably actually when my art teacher said, ‘You’re really good at drawing’, and I was like, ‘What? me?’ Im still surprised when I do something and someone really likes it.
I’m 47 years old and I haven’t been drawing, and then this ... It feels like a bit of a God thing—a gift to me. Even though the art class has nothing to do with church or The Salvation Army, for me the drawing is a really spiritual experience.
I can draw the things that are meaningful to me. When I’m focused on doing something—a sketch might take 40 hours—I might spend five hours just doing the eyes.
When you’re doing that, you’re not thinking about anything—except sometimes I will use that time to pray and to meditate. All the stuff I’m worried about, all the stuff from work, just disappears and I’m lost in that tiny little piece of paper for hours. A whole night can disappear.
I believe that everyone has creativity in them, but it doesn’t always look the same. For someone it might be break-dancing; for someone else, music. But for me, it’s drawing. I think we’ve all got it within us. One of the things people often say is, ‘Oh I wish I could do that’, and I say, ‘Well how do you know you can’t? Maybe you can.’
by Tracy Boon (c) 'War Cry' magazine, 25 August 2018, p11 - You can read 'War Cry' at your nearest Salvation Army church or centre, or subscribe through Salvationist Resources.