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  • April Gavin


Drawing - I hear a massive shudder among artists and non-artists alike. This Winter I took a drawing class in order to improve my ability to see and draw what lands in front of me. Why is drawing so hard? Once, it was a normal part of school curriculum. I had art classes in school, but drawing itself was not taught. You often hear people say "I can't draw a straight line." Some of these people even make art. Hmmm - is drawing not even taught in art school any more?

Drawing is a skill that can be learned much like anything else. I was spurred to take a class by the book Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain by Betty Edwards. If the last time you drew something was when you were ten, this is where your drawing skills stopped. If you attempt to take up drawing as an adult, your drawing will look like you're ten. (Oddly, this is also true of your reading-level and handwriting.) No wonder people are embarrassed when they cannot draw - you haven't been practicing. "Why haven't you been practicing?" was the question I asked myself.

Drawing is one of the many places I felt that my own art needed a boost. Castle in the Air holds a regular 6-week drawing class with Alice Armstrong. We learned a few techniques that warm up our ability to see the object in front of us and give it space on the paper. Alice introduced us to various tools to help define our object and and cut the clutter around it. She also introduced us to various techniques to create negative space for our objects to sit in. Unlike a lot of drawing classes, all materials are provided and we're not limited to pencil only. Alice brings in her own pastels, colored pencils, charcoal, graphite, and water colors for us to play with. There's two classes left in this Winter session, and I wonder what new stuff will be introduced.

Hard to say if my own drawing has improved, but at least now I'm practicing on a more regular basis. Here's a sample of what I've been doing:

Here's a radish (in case you were wondering) done early in the class.

Also done a few weeks ago. Potatoes? Nope, these are eggs.

These even look like tangerines and even maybe edible. The last three are an under-drawing of the subject with colored pencil.

I did this one over a week ago in class and and really enjoyed the techniques. I covered the page with a compressed charcoal ground and then erased out my shapes. This was also the first time I'd used oil pastels. I'm really proud of this one. The vegetables look luscious. I often leave class really hungry.

This is done with a similar technique as the eggplant, but I wanted to stick with pencils. It was hard to capture the roundness of the milk pitcher and the shadows. I'll definitely try this again.

Done with the same technique as the two above. I'll attempt this again partly because I'm in love with tokyo turnips and this one didn't quite land for me. It's got style, but I want to try it another way.

This was yesterday's effort in class. I learned a few things working on this. One, you don't have to draw everything you see; Two, don't take the mango literally - just try to capture it's essence; Three - see the forest, see the trees, but don't get overwhelmed. I spent a long time on the belly button of the fruit, but had a hard time capturing the nose and the overall slant. I'm proud of this one too.

Back to the studio again Sunday. I'm working on a series that I'll write about soon.

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