Help pack a million meals for struggling seniors on Sept. 11. Volunteer today

Contests and


most popular


How I Painted My Masterpiece

I’d always wanted to become an artist. Finally, I found someone to show me how.

                        • Watch students in action
                        • Cultivate your creativity
                        • Artists share their secrets

Hugh Delehanty painting on large canvas

Aimone continues: “In our culture, drawing has become synonymous with rendering. So if you’re not able to render a dazzling likeness of something, you’re told that you don’t have any talent. Every 3-year-old is a fabulous artist. But by age 12 or 13, they’ve either been told they have talent or they’ve stopped. And most people never start again.”

One of the key influences on Aimone was a branch of Surrealism known as psychic automatism. This group believed that “automatic drawing” — a form of spontaneous doodling — can reveal something about the artist’s inner life that other more self-conscious forms of drawing can’t. Inspired by their work, Aimone developed a series of exercises to stimulate this kind of creativity. “The thing is to tap into the intelligence of your body — and your subconscious — and use that as a source from which to express yourself.”

The workshop took place in a large, high-ceilinged studio, scattered with some of Aimone’s haunting black-and-white paintings. A few of the students were professional artists, but most had never studied art before, including a performance artist, a therapist, a textile designer, a book publicist and the local mail carrier. After a quick introduction, we launched into the first exercise: drawing three pictures with black paint, each containing a circle, a square and a triangle.

The point, Aimone explained, was to show how much intrigue you can create with three simple shapes. When the shapes relate to one another on the paper, he said, they become animate entities. “They have character, personality, energy and weight,” he said. “They’re alive.”

No kidding. Some of the drawings that emerged were charged with feelings of fear, anger and pent-up rage. The textile designer’s pictures resembled a group portrait of a dysfunctional family, while the performing artist’s tightly regimented works portrayed an empty world in which nobody ever touched.

For me, the process was surprisingly liberating. I was delighted to paint in carefree, de Kooningesque brushstrokes, without trying to make the drawing resemble anything. I felt something wild and uninhibited awaken inside me, something screaming desperately to get out.

Topic Alerts

You can get weekly email alerts on the topics below. Just click “Follow.”

Manage Alerts


Please wait...

progress bar, please wait

Tell Us WhatYou Think

Please leave your comment below.


Discounts & Benefits

From companies that meet the high standards of service and quality set by AARP.

Member Benefits HomeServe

Members can protect their homes with comprehensive repair plans from HomeServe.

grocery coupon center member benefit aarp

Members can print savings coupons at the Grocery Coupon Center powered by

Member Benefits Discounts Angie's List

Members can save 25% to 45% on their Angie's List membership.

Member Benefits

Join or renew today! Members receive exclusive member benefits & affect social change.