Basic Drawing #1

Originally posted 1 July 2009.

My first Basic Drawing class at The Art League was last night. I was almost late: I left work at 5:00 and between traffic and a stop at the supply store it was already 6:40 by the time I had a chance to get some dinner. The only quick place in sight was Starbucks, so I grabbed one of their weirdass sandwiches (tarragon chicken salad with cranberries) and a Naked-brand protein smoothie. The protein drink, chosen so my hands wouldn’t be shaky with hunger later, was gritty and unpleasant. But I drank it anyway. You can bet I’ll plan my time better next week.

We used our giant (18″x24″) newsprint pads exclusively last night. The only “tables” available were these crappy plastic rolly carts so I grabbed an easel. This was my first time using an easel, and it was certainly a different experience from a table or lap. I sat on a high stool for a while but eventually found it easier to just stand.

The first thing the teacher had us draw was our keys. He said he was going to just throw us into the pool and then tell us our mistakes afterward. We used a normal #2 pencil, then after however long we walked around and looked at everybody else’s drawings. There are some truly talented people in this class. And yet, the teacher chose my drawing to show the class as a really good example. I guess I should have suspected I was doing something right when he peeked at my work-in-progress and said, “You’ve drawn before.” But anyway, as he was teaching, he even said, “When I don’t have a [melydia] in this class I usually just draw it myself to demonstrate this concept.” So I was both flattered and embarrassed, as per usual when I receive unwarranted praise. It’s not like I was especially proud of this sketch, after all. It was just some big, weirdly out-of-perspective keys.

pencil on newsprint

But anyway. The next thing we did was draw the keys again, this time as an open composition (that is, part of the objects go off the side of the page, emphasizing the negative space). Since my first drawing was already an open composition (which was probably the main reason the teacher used it as an example), I went overboard and drew Giant Keys of Doom. Seriously: I drew two housekeys and both of them went off the side of the page in at least two directions. This second drawing was our first experiment with Conte crayons, which seem to be an intermediate step between Crayola and charcoal.

Conte crayon on newsprint

Our final drawing of the night (it’s a 2.5 hour class but the first part was spent on attendance, syllabus, and last-minute trips to the supply store) was of a vase, using charcoal. I was reasonably satisfied with how mine turned out, but I should have washed my hands in between drawings, or at least gotten some new paper towels. There were all sorts of bizarre and unintended streaks going on; it almost looks like my vase is coming apart at the edges. It’s like I’m a Surrealist and I didn’t even know it.

charcoal on newsprint

All in all it was a good class. I can see myself learning a lot, but even if I don’t, it’ll still be a nice structured environment forcing me to practice drawing more. So it’s win-win all around.

Note: this is part of the Basic Drawing Series.

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