If you’ve been wondering why I’ve been posting less often, it is mostly because I’m taking a beginning drawing class at the local community college. Yes, I can already draw, but I want to get better at it. Normally, if I want to improve at something, I’ll get a couple books, watch some online videos and read some chat boards in between the real work: practice. And more practice, wait, critique and edit, practice some more. Pretty much everything that can be improved can be done so with practice. However, I don’t seem to be able to carve out for myself time to work on my drawing skills. Everything else comes up as more important or more pressing, or somehow gets priority over a self-indulgent thing like personal skill leveling. Thus, paying money, having a set time, getting a grade and having a class structure designed for skill improvement, all this will help ensure actual improvement.
For all the art supplies I already own, I still had to purchase over half the items on the list. I’ve never drawn with artist’s charcoal (vine, willow, compressed, pencils) – although it does feel similar to taking a burnt stick out of the fire and making marks on a rock. I didn’t have a chamois cloth for shading. I don’t like working large often, so I didn’t have enough 18×24″ drawing paper, or a way to carry the damn tablet. My kneaded eraser was rather dingy, so I got another. While I do have maybe a dozen sets of colored pencils already, I didn’t have the type specified on the supply list. Same thing with the dual-tipped Tombow markers, which I use Pitt markers in place of, personally. Since I don’t mount my work for display, I didn’t have artist tape. There were a number of things I needed to buy. Now I have yet another bag full of art supplies and I’m okay with that.
Drawing in class, with the exception of site specific drawing, is done standing up with the paper on a board mounted on an easel. At first this was quite annoying, but now I find it a natural part of my process; so much so that when a homework assignment called for a scene, I purchased an easel to have in my own house. I may end up getting a portable one still, for drawing outside the house. Working on a flat, tilted or angled surface is still fine for small and medium sketches, my preferred size, but once you get larger than 14×17″ it becomes unwieldy and awkward.
The first week we did contour and blind contour drawings. The weekend homework assignment was to simply create contour drawings of ten items.
I say simply because it is a straightforward assignment, but I say it somewhat facetiously because once you start focusing on your drawings and critiquing them in your head, it becomes more than merely banging out some sketches.
The second week we moved into point of view, line and shapes, organizational lines and some measuring and angle methods to start getting specific about improvements. The weekend homework assignment was to create a drawing of something you would consider a toy. We were meant to use dramatic lighting, arrangement, etc. to make it appear heroic or such.
I didn’t do so much lighting or drama, but I did try to give my Gretchen an interesting angle, at least.
The class is in its sixth week now, but the instructor only returned the other assigned drawings last night. I’ll go home and snap pictures of them tonight. Doesn’t make a lot of sense to tell you about the drawing class without showing you the drawings.
This class makes me fairly happy. I was not really terrible at drawing before, but these months of class will definitely help me improve. I can tell I’m already getting better. It is a creative form of progress that I’m not really getting on my own right now, with no workshop and limited options. I also have limited time, but that is largely because of the class and homework, so that doesn’t count.