I had an interesting week, having signed up for a Fundamental Drawing class at Albany Summer School some months ago. The day finally dawned and I nervously made my way into town, giant sheets of paper flapping under my arm, sharpened pencils and a box of charcoal tucked away in my bag. Ten of us sat around the room like new kids at school, but we were soon to be put at ease by our friendly and chilled out tutor, an artist from Denmark by the name of Peter Usher.
Firstly we had to start with contour drawing, drawing the outline of a shape, in this case our hand, without looking! Holy cow. We all laughed at our crap efforts :-) Apparently doing this helps your brain and your hand to communicate, and the more you do it the better you get at it.
So that was it, it was a great week and I really enjoyed it. I felt like I learned a lot of new skills to help compose a drawing, how to relate the size and shape of something to the rest of the picture was really useful, it's not something I have ever really thought about much. I have found that my contour drawing is becoming increasingly better and very useful, particularly now as we were allowed to look at what we had drawn, just every now and then to stay on track, keeping the pencil on the paper. It is a good way to start a drawing, I think it stops you from being too anal, and just helping to get a first vague shape on paper.
Peter also emphasised how helpful it is to carry an art journal around with you as much as possible, and to jot down ideas, draw tiny shapes that appeal to you, sketch somewhere you are that grabs you, anything. Not to do works of art but to play with ideas, perspectives, shading, everything. So I am going to try that and started mine a couple of days ago. I've decided that our water tank will be a good thing to draw regularly, it's quite tricky with all the lines in it, and trying to keep the relationship of the uprights correct. Not to mention all the shadows and sweeping and wiggly lines of the colorbond it is made of. I have to remind myself that it is meant to be fun, I am doing only for myself and that there are no exams! :-)