Thursday, October 14, 2010

I am the class example!

I started taking an introduction to drawing class last week. The class description specifically mentioned this was for beginners, for those wanting to learn how to draw. NOT for people who already have talent.
I signed up.

The first exercise was a "contour" drawing: stare at an object and trace it WITHOUT lifting the pencil from paper and without actually LOOKING at what you're doing. "Go slowly," the instructor said, "your hand will outline what your eye sees."

Yeah? Here's the "vase" I "saw":

If you need a good laugh, seriously, right now, try it. Trace the outline of something without actually looking at the paper. You've just done a contour drawing!

We practiced this a few times and I kept snorting at my results. I wanted to try using my other hand just to mix it up even though I am NOT ambidextrous. "How much worse could it get?" I thought.

The instructor began circling the room to check on us.
Instructor: "How are you doing?"

me: "Alright, I guess. I tried this with both hands and it's interesting that I can't really tell which hand did which." I pointed to my paper. "See? This was my left hand and this other one, my right."

Instructor: "Which do you prefer?"

me: "I'm right-handed."
He excitedly grabbed my sketchbook and held it up to the class.

"Look! Here's a GREAT example of how you need ABSOLUTELY NO MECHANICAL SKILL WHATSOEVER to do this exercise. None! See? She did this [awful, crude, primitive, toddler's rendition] vase with both left and right hands. If you ask me, the left hand actually looks a little better."

He circled the class, pointing to my scribbles. "No skill! None! It's perfect!!"

I brightened behind the easel, proud of my lack of talent. I was the class example for zero ability!


"See how her brain was less constricted by what she was 'supposed' to be seeing in the left-handed drawing? It's more symmetrical. It's a truer view of the vase."

He delivered the sketchpad back, adding, "See if you all want to try this" to the rest of the room.

(The vases were slightly different.)

The next class focused on "gesture" drawing. This involved scribbling out a shape in 15 seconds.

"It doesn't even have to LOOK like the thing," the instructor stated. "You really just want the *essence* of what it's DOING."

So, uh, here's the chair I was sitting on:

Quite clear, right?

I spent the next 2.5 hours scribbling things and fantasizing about how I maybe should have enrolled in something extremely inartistic like accounting. Every sketch seemed to exceed the previous one by an exponential factor of suck.

Then I got home, threw on some instrumental music and my brain lit up. Inspired, I tried one last sketch for the night:

I've never been able to draw faces before. People in general are extremely difficult. Either I needed those 2 hours to warmup or trance tunes act as calisthenics for the non-visual brain but I felt like maybe this class could actually help me learn to see.

If I could actually learn to create? Bonus.


lacochran's evil twin said...

That's quite good! Maybe it's both the warm ups and the trance music. Your left brain is trying to control too much. Let the right brain take over and you get good stuff!

Niffer said...


Reed said...

That is really good! I took an art class and the best I could do was draw a piece of crumpled paper. It did save me time when I threw it out.

talkingtostones said...

A few years ago I took a night collage class. I've always loved collage, but I could never get the random look to it. We spent the session doing all sorts of artistic exercise things other than collage, until near the end. I had a similar experience to yours. The less I controlled or tried to control, the less I expected from what I was doing, the better I did. When I gave up trying to achieve a particular end result, unexpected things flowed. The instructor even had Son come into the class (he would sit in the hall reading while I attended) and make a collage. Why? Because young children have very few expectations of their art work; they just enjoy playing. Sure enough, he did a fabulous collage within minutes. So glad you're having this experience. It can make such a difference -- and it will change how you see the world, yourself, and how you interact with it. Congrats, my friend!!

Michael Berman said...

The chair is brilliant.

geekhiker said...

Wow... you probably really hated my last couple of posts about not posting, didn't you?

Just outta curiosity: are you the type that picks up new skills relatively quickly? By the time you got to the chair, I totally recognized it as being a chair and, of course, that last picture is pretty great!

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