At school I hated art lessons. I didn’t think I had the correct skills to be an artist and I thought if I couldn’t create an accurate image or representation of an object or person, then there was no point. I remember asking my parents for help with homework and they looked as stuck as I, referring me to my talented grandfather instead. Despite my early love of making things (I loved nothing more than a friendship bracelet set from the toy shop) I just felt like a massive failure when it came to ‘real art’.
Flash forward several years to when my craft addictions took root and I was working in a school as a learning support assistant, an LSA who LOVED going into art and design classes. I couldn’t get enough; I even got the art teacher to set me the homework that the A Level students were doing just so I could get involved and try out something new. Art lessons suddenly felt different; I’m not sure if it was because the curriculum became wider and looked more at a variety of different art forms, or if my concept of art had changed. Either way I loved it and when I trained to be a drama teacher, I felt that art could be my 2nd subject (most teachers of arts based subjects are often required to teach a 2nd subject unfortunately!) despite the fact that I still thought I couldn’t draw properly.
During my adult life I have tried so many different arts and crafts. One thing that I had realised over the years is that I like everything I do to be made by me and not copied or using someone else’s art work to create a bigger piece of art. So for example, if I was making a gift card for someone, I wouldn’t want the key image on the card to be a stamp or a piece of die cut card that someone else had designed. Again the one thing I thought was standing in my way of producing my own designs was that I couldn’t draw anything too complex or detailed. I wanted to change this.
At the tail end of 2016 my mum and I decided that we wanted to find somewhere that we could learn to draw so that we could start 2017 creatively. After a search of Google we were left confused and unsure of exactly what we wanted to do. There were so many options; local colleges offering combined drawing and painting courses (I loved that idea!), some went on for a year, a full term or a half term. Some were free whilst others were really expensive and gave you a diploma at the end… we really didn’t know what we wanted. Eventually I posted the question asking for recommendations on a local Facebook page and was directed to Anna Roth a local artist/ art teacher who runs adult art classes local to where my mum lives. She was advertising a new class ‘Drawing Essentials.’
Anna’s classes were really well structured over 4 two-hour lessons on a Monday morning. Each week focused on another key skill needed when drawing. Week 1 saw us beginning to understand the different materials we needed for drawing (different type of pencils, rubbers, charcoal, paper) and using them for mark making, then using these marks to create different textures and shading. During the second lesson we moved on to looking at form and shape, making sure that our drawings were using the correct proportions and positioned correctly on the page using a grid or a set of lines drawn free hand. Our third lesson focused on composition and how to make our drawings interesting and pleasing to the eye, we looked at how an image is composed to draw our eye to a certain place in the image. During the fourth and final lesson we looked at creating perspective within our images by using vanishing points and guide lines. This was great to create depth to an image, but also for me to tackle something that I thought was beyond my abilities… landscape images.
Starting every Monday morning of January in this way has been great to get my creativity flowing right at the beginning of the year. Getting a basic understanding of a pencil (which one to use when and how to hold it) was useful in itself. It has also been a really good starting point for how I approach constructing an image in any medium. I am working hard at the moment to improve my photography skills and I can clearly see the links between drawing an image and composing a photograph.
The course has given me a great overview of these basic skills – I now need to work out how to put it all together to create one effective image! It has become very clear to me that I don’t always like creating perfect images. I like a more abstract image when I draw or create my own designs. I also think these skills will work very well when I move forward to explore working with paint, particularly using the ideas of form, shape and composition.
Have you got any tips for me? Want to know more about my drawing equipment or the classes I have done? Then leave me a comment below… I love feedback and chatting to people who are reading!