Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Last Class

Last night was the last night of my seven-week Basic Drawing class. I could barely drag myself there. I was so tired and the anticipation of another drab still life to draw did not do much to encourage me. We are drawing in pencil, so I guess the teacher thinks it appropriate not to include colorful items. I hadn't done my homework (finishing last week's cello drawing) because, well, I just didn't have time. I actually fell asleep a couple of times while drawing last night. I could tell by the stray pencil marks on my teddy bear.

I have to say the class has been valuable, despite its limitations. For one thing, it gets you over the staring-at-a-blank-page-and-wondering-what-to-draw stage. There is something intriguing about drawing, even if the subject matter is a not what you might have chosen. And there is nothing like someone saying, in essence, "draw!" to get you moving.

I also learned that sketching is not always a quick and easy process. It takes time and you need to allow time. Drawing the final picture takes even longer. It's tied in to this concept of talent. People tend to think only people who are talented in art or in music can draw or make music. Talent does play a role, but practice may play a bigger role.

Erasing and revision is part of the process. I remember the teacher telling someone that their celery was in the wrong location in relationship to the bowl, and suggested that she erase her celery and redraw if closer to the bowl. The woman protested, "It took me so long to draw that celery." The teacher replied, "You did it once, you can do it again." (This reminded me of ensemble rehearsals when you all get through a tricky passage, and someone says, "Let's do it again, to cement it." And you're thinking, "I don't want to! I just barely made it through that time!" But, you did it once, you can do it again--and, in cello playing, you should!)

You get social support for your art in class. There are others trying to do what you are trying to do, and you can encourage each other. It was only in the last couple of weeks that people in this class started talking to each other and showing each other their work, or at least not hiding it and saying it was awful. I was so impressed with the progress of the older (than me) woman who sat next to me. She only started drawing in July and last night showed me her very intricate drawing of a harbor scene with a multitude of buildings and surfaces. We talked a bit about how to draw rock outcroppings. You can also get this social support online, in places like DrawSpace, where you can chat with others, participate in weekly drawing challenges, and upload your art for all to see and comment on. In fact, there is probably more support in the online group than in class, but I do appreciate the face-to-face contact in art class, and the real-life smiles.

And, finally, class is valuable because you have to set aside a certain huge amount of time (in this case class was 2 hours) just to draw. That's not always possible at home, where everything else seems more important. Going to art class allows you time to draw and gives you motivation and validation for it.

So, I'll probably take another real-life drawing class, after the quickly approaching holiday season. Meanwhile, I'll work on the online lessons, perhaps using color pencils--when I have time.


Gottagopractice said...

Yes. Time. Practice.

I will finish up my on-line course with a final exam by Friday (or not). It was a great introduction to vocabulary and technical considerations, so definitely worth the (little) time (I put into it), but I agree with your conclusion that there are benefits to learning how to draw in a more social setting. I need to find a local class.

cellodonna said...

Your post reminded me about how lazy I am about drawing. I have some drawing pencils and sketch pads that have never been touched.

But on those rare occasions when I finally do draw I need to be alone. I also need to be highly motivated or else under some sort of deadline.

Teri C said...

Very interesting comments about your class. It's been a long time since I took a class like that so you brought back lots of memories. Now art is so much a part of my life I practically walk around with a pencil in my hand:)

Marie-Dom said...

Hope you keep going cos it's really worth it. The thing that triggered me off with my drawing was a book by Betty Edwards, called "Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain" (I think I've got the title right.
Love your blog and the cello pics!!!

Maricello said...

Wow, Gtgp, an online art course with a final exam! Sounds serious. Good luck! :-)

Donna, I have had many of my art supplies for more than 20 years. Before the kids, I used to work in Boston and took art classes after work. I may not have been the best student, but I had the best art supplies! That was part of my motivation--to use these wonderful art supplies.

Teri c, thanks for dropping by. Usually I walk around with a cello in my hand, but art is establishing a firm hold. I have a sturdy music stand next to my desk which holds not only sheet music for the Bach solo cello suites and Scottish cello fiddling tunes, but also a bunch of 2.5 by 3.5 watercolor paper cards so that I can experiment with the artist trading card format, making it easy to take a quick art break.

Marie-dom, thanks for visiting my blog. I do have Betty Edwards' book, and do agree there is much in there that is inspiring. It is also inspiring to visit your blog and Teri's blog and the many other great art blogs around. I do think I will stick with this!