I survived my first art lesson


I not only survived, I enjoyed myself!

My nervousness was, as usual, a total waste of energy.  I still can’t figure out why I get so wound up about such things but I’ve almost come to expect it so I just ride through it and hope it passes.  It’s like how you know that when you dive into a cold pool on a hot day that its going to be uncomfortably freezing for the first plunge but you do it anyway in the hope that you adapt to the temperature – and generally you do.

I was the only total beginner and decided not to take any of my previous work in but start totally from scratch and, for once in my life, do as I was told.  So Con, my teacher had me draw a small cardboard box, then a small cardboard cylinder.  I drew what I thought I saw but I was a bit disappointed.

Con was encouraging and I thought he was just humouring me and probably thinking he had his work cut out and should have charged me more for wasting his time!

I patiently waited for him to tell me how to draw but really, other than a few simple tips on structural drawing and holding my pencil differently for better control, he didn’t try to teach me drawing.  In fact, these tips seemed a little “messy” unlike my first attempt at a controlled, neat, tidy rendition of the box.

Now it was I who was wondering whether I had wasted my time…

He then had me create little tables of shading with a 2B pencil – both blocks of shading and graded.

I was to use the tables I made to tell him what numbers on the shading table matched each of the sides of the box.  I struggled.  I’m very “black and white” and, until recently, could barely think in shades of grey let alone draw them.  I’m more of a yes or no, right or wrong person but I’m slowly learning that this self imposed rigidity is actually making me unhappy as there is no scope for flexibility, freedom or reality.  I just couldn’t see the shades to match them.

Con then gave me a tip, he told me to squint my eyes to blur the subject and make it easier to match the tone.

It worked and the penny dropped.  He wasn’t trying to teach me to draw at all – he was trying to teach me to see.  Once I got my head (and eyes) around that it was much easier.  I accepted tone and gradient over my preferred “black and white” or one dimensional approach.

Then it all seemed to come together in a light bulb moment and I produced this.

He set me homework – to draw a wooden clothes peg.  Not an exciting topic but I was pleased with the outcome.  If I compare my first picture above to this – I can tell I’ve learned something.

So I not only survived my first lesson, I’m looking forward to returning for my next one!

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11 thoughts on “I survived my first art lesson

  1. Congratulations! It’s like a whole new world is opening up for you. At least that is how I felt when I started drawing lessons. It is a lot of fun and I find it empowering. Do you?

    • Hey Monique, thanks for commenting! Now that you mention it, I think empowering is a really good word for it! I can see improvement after one lesson so imagine how I’ll be feeling after a few more!

  2. I’m exceptionally pleased to know that you have learned that there is a way of being able to see the ‘grey’ areas in art – this same “squint” method can also be applied to areas of life in general!!
    I LOVE your peg – simple but so lifelike

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