Art classes: week 1

I went to my first ever art class on Wednesday night. I was nervous, but then, everyone else in the room (14 other students) probably was too. We’re just about all beginners.

Matthew, our tutor (and the founder of the school), was fantastic. He sat and talked in a way that made us relax, and set up a fun, social atmosphere.

He talked about being a beginner; about perfectionism and self-criticism; the doubt that even professional artists feel; the creativity we had as children and how parents, the education system, and other adults can really put out that fire; the difference between craft and art and how artists try to convey something more than just the subject they’re drawing or painting; the language of art; journalling/keeping a workbook; and the importance of regular practice.

All of this resonated strongly with me, and at times I was even teary. I felt like something in me was awakening.

And then we did fun introductions, where we talked to the person next to us, wrote down some things about them (their history with art, what their aspirations were, etc.), and then introduced them.

The night was mostly talking, but we did do a couple of drawing exercises to ease into things.

Emotion marks

Matthew got us to fold an A4 piece of paper into eight rectangles, brainstorm eight strong emotions (the majority of which were negative, unsurprisingly), write them on the back, and make abstract marks (rather than obvious symbols) on the front that corresponded with the emotions.

Here are mine:

Emotional marks
From left to right and top to bottom: tranquility, rage, grief, frustration, anxiety, joy, jealousy, depression.

Matthew said it’s surprising how often the marks that different people make for a particular emotion are quite similar. And I did find that a bit with the person sitting next to me.

A chair and a stool

The second exercise of the night was a line drawing of a chair and stool placed together. It was to teach us about perceived edges, positive and negative space, the picture plane, proportion, space (generally), and depth.

Matthew gave us a kebab stick (I think that’s what it was!) to hold up vertically, with an outstretched arm, and assess angles and proportions. He also told us to focus on the negative spaces made by the chair and stool. I found both of these difficult to do (the drawing below would’ve been simpler if I’d focused on negative space), but I know they’re important for accuracy, so I’m going to practice them between now and our next session.

Chair and stool

Overall, I really enjoyed the class and meeting the other students. We were free to wander around the school, look at paintings in the small, on-site gallery, borrow books from the school’s library, and poke our heads in to the oil-painting class next door (although I never did that this time). We were even offered a free beer or wine!

I’m excited about learning from Matthew in the upcoming weeks, and I’m sure I will grow. I intend to make the most of the classes.

Next week, we’re doing some more drawing, but this time with willow charcoal. I’m looking forward to trying that!

4 thoughts on “Art classes: week 1

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