My Figure Drawing Class

I say this often, but you really had to have known me a while to know how astonishing it is that I am posting my drawings. It is not because I think my drawings are anything to write home about, (they seriously aren't,) but rather, I want to show you how your attitude to what you do, especially your artistic endeavors, can change, and in a relatively short time. (Granted, I am becoming more shameless about sharing things among friends...)

It was only this March that I had that mind-boggling design workshop experience, where I felt so free from my preconceptions and expectations. That led me to signing up for a figure drawing workshop in April, after thinking about it for ten years. I finished my second term (10 in a term; I missed maybe three, so we're talking only 17 sessions,) on Friday.

The last two weeks we have been doing "gesture drawings" in wet media using strange tools like sponges, balsa wood pieces, bamboo sticks, feathers, crayon and wash, fat brushes, pieces of sheep skin, etc. Or drawing with our "other" hand. Gesture drawing is liberating because we are to put down the impression of the gesture/pause in a quick motion. We can take forever looking and composing in our heads, but the trick is to move our hands quickly, and without lifting the tool from the surface of the paper if possible. And not looking at the paper while you draw if possible.

To me, this meant I don't have to worry much about proportion and the likeness of the shapes, and it allowed me to venture into distortion. This particular model was bony, even to her bottom, and so different from myself or many of my friends and family, and I felt compelled to accentuate that.

The top one was probably a 10-second drawing, done in a fat brush and ink; the bottom one is a 5-minute drawings, with a piece of balsa wood and wet paper towel and ink. The very last drawing I did on Friday, I was standing at a perfect place, but my classmates who have known me throughout these two terms thought it rather astonishing for moi. It's quite dramatic, whereas I usually go for stillness, but I hesitate to post it because it's full-frontal. Besides, I like back and 3/4 views, because the mood is more nuanced, and I can put more of my feelings in, whereas when the models sit facing me, I feel somewhat confronted.

The figure drawing class has proven to me to be a guaranteed live-in-the-moment time. Figure drawing is so difficult I can't worry about what others are doing or if mine is good or bad or if anyone is looking at my stuff. Jo, a classmate, has been impressed with everybody's progress, but honestly, I can't remember what anyone else used to do or did last week. And because I keep telling myself and everybody who would listen that I am a weaver, so even if I'm not good by anyone else's or my standards, I don't feel threatened. I have to tell you, though, that week after week of looking at drawings by 10 or more people at least twice in the course of a lesson, you start to see something you like or want to emulate, in almost every drawing, and there is never a drawing that is entirely "bad".

I've also become interested in composition - a word I only knew vaguely pertaining to art in April, but I think about it a lot because now I see it much like cropping my photographs. It's cutting out the unnecessary bits so you focus on the bits I want you to focus on. And I'm still surprised and annoyed when somebody points out patterns in drawings; I don't see them unless they are literally pointed out to me.

If you ever wanted to take lessons in something, but thought you weren't going to be good, be honest with yourself and assess if you need to be good at it or just want to give it a go. If you decide to take lessons, but find out the experience turned out to be less than what you expected, look for another class or teacher. Because this is like match-making; we're lucky we have Ronette as our teacher, but sine I've been in this class, I've heard horror stories about art teachers and classes. Because I'm easily influenced by people, I try to take position next to Ron; then, no matter who comes on the other side, I feel settled, even though it's not as if we talk or look at each other's work during class. We don't.

When you find the right situation, it can give you so much unadulterated pleasure, (and by this I mean, I don't have to explain to myself why I so enjoy it; I just do, and not having to justify/analize is a biggie for me) and an effortless time out from your normal life.

And deep down, I can't help having blind faith that somehow this experience is going to have a good influence on my weaving. As your experience will on yours.

Meanwhile, my life outside the classroom has been distracted and unproductive. I still had tradesmen coming to my house to give me quotes; some work was done last week. I have to decide on the wood burner installer and plumber and let the builder know. I have to rebudget so we can pay them when we estimate the work to be done. I still have 10 days before the oral surgery. Spring is here with a heavy-hitting hayfever and brain paralysis. My hayfever pills aren't working and they might be passed their use-by date because I got off very lightly last spring, so these might be leftovers from the year before!

Figure drawing class takes a two-week break while Ronette holidays in Niue.


Taueret said...

I love that you share your art class experiences and projects with us. I'd love to see the censored ;-) one.

Meg said...

I'll think of a way to post it, Taueret. It's quite different for me - something that's come about only in the last two weeks since we started thinking about composition. Whereas before, we were supposed to try to get everything in, but I just ran out of paper, I've been somewhat intentionally doing it in the last two weeks, which has been interesting.