I recently finished an eight week drawing course – Creative Drawing with Lauryn Arnott at Gallery One. I enjoyed it and really found it worthwhile, and it has certainly affected my current art direction.
I originally chose it because I desperately needed to continue some regular art practise with other people. I spent a year and a half with Splashout Studios and Di Lamont and had so much fun, made so much art that when circumstances changed and I was no longer able to attend the classes, I was left pining for the activity. So I went looking for other possibilities.
Initially I looked to drawing because it is my native art, it’s where I started my journey thirty-five-odd years ago and an old favourite that I don’t do enough of nowadays. It turned out the subject for the term was to be portraiture, so it was right up my alley as portraiture has long been one of my focus points for my art.
Turns out that in practise it was more a life drawing class with a focus on the head and drawing style. Again perfect because I know I need more life drawing experience. Of course, this didn’t stop me from mentally wrestling with what I was asked to do. Any teacher who has worked with me finds out sooner or later that I’m not easy to teach, as I automatically rebel against anything that doesn’t line up with either what I think I know or how I do something (I’m a bit of a ‘know-it-all’). So this was not only a lesson in drawing, but a mental exercise of forcibly putting my own bias aside.
So what did I learn?
- Drawing with my non-dominant hand – didn’t even think of this previously other than in one isolated exercise back in graphic design school. Very effective technique with some interesting results.
- I managed to further loosen my style, something I’m battling with contiuously as I’m naturally a nitpicking pedantic in my art.
- Got to exercise the whole ‘just draw’ attitude of life drawing. You only have a few minutes per drawing because the model can’t sit in a pose for an extended period of time. This limits what you can do and makes you ‘just draw’ and get anything down, not worrying too much what mistakes are being made.
- I got to play with my pastels, a medium I’ve been neglecting since I picked up my acrylics brush. Combined with the colour experience I gained with Di and Splashout, I was able to explore both line and colour in my drawings (with mixed results)
- Got to actually draw from life which is something I haven’t done with portraiture at all since most of my subjects have either been celebraties or children, and this proved very experience worthy. Lauryn mentioned that drawing from life was much more accurate and life like than drawing from a photo. This is something I had been wondering about as painting from photos is a practise I have been doing a lot. However, the camera lens has no hope of capturing everything the human eye can see, so I had suspected that this was warping an artist’s final output. Just look at the difference between a digital photo of some scenery and the scenery itself – colour is such an easily altered factor, not to mention contrast and all that depth the camera is not capable of recording. So while photos are definitely a very useful tool, the artist’s brush has far more megapixels to play with. There is definite value in painting from life.
Anyway, I have children to feed, so straight to the photos of the work I produced (in no particular order).