I usually try to find a picture to accompany the poems that I write, partly to make my blog look less dry and partly because it’s a helpful visual shorthand for understanding the message or mood that I’m trying to convey. For my most recent poem, The City, I was unable to find anything that I was happy with. In my mind I had wanted to find either a picture of a city in the distance with a skyline that vaguely resembled a woman’s curves, or else a picture of a woman in the far distance.
Failing miserably, I decided to make an attempt at drawing my own. Now this thought didn’t exactly appear out of nowhere – I’ve been doing a “Basic Drawing Skills” class through Macquarie Uni for several weeks. I did a few sketches and decided that “woman in the distance” was going to be a lot more viable, and started to draw little tiny women silhouettes. I’ve always been impacted by the figures in this image – titled “Crosses at Golgotha” and by an unknown artist, which appeared in an article on computer drawing in an old computer magazine – and attempted to achieve a similar effect with a very, very sharp pencil:
The buildings in the background was a serendipitous discovery rather than a skill that I learned. While trying to quickly mock up a city I discovered that a pencil turned on its side actually does a passable job of rendering rectangular shapes.
Unfortunately, the sky didn’t turn out too well as my ham-fisted shading skills ruined my attempt at a cloudy haze around a full moon.
If you haven’t already, you can see the final result here.
But wait, there’s more! Sorry I got sidetracked – my original intention for this post was to write about the course, so getting to the point, finally…
The first session of the 8-week course dealt with perspective. The guy teaching the course gave instructions on what to draw, and we the students drew. There was no explanation or theory about what we were drawing, and it didn’t take very long to discover that maybe this course was a little too basic. Oh well, money’s been paid. Might as well get in some practice and see what I can milk out of it.
(Apologies for the darkness of the pictures. They’re all A3 size so I couldn’t scan them, and the course wasn’t Basic Photography Skills…)
Trying not to be negative
The following sessions basically amounted to being shown increasingly difficult objects and being told to draw them with only the merest wisp of instruction. The second session was about negative space, where we were told to observe the gaps between objects.
Tree trees are dirty tree
One reassuring thing at least, was that the teacher was actually competent. Every scribble that proceeded from his pencil actually looked pretty good.
Things got a bit easier once we got to animals. Learning to break animals down into their constituent shapes was truly helpful. It’s a shame that I don’t have the original pictures to show you, so that you can see what we were drawing from.
A shade too sketchy
As I mentioned before I found shading to be the hardest. Converting a full colour picture into black and white inside your head, and then trying to render the comparative colours using shades of pencil is an really tough!
The next sessions concerned people – how to draw faces and bodies. This was the most interesting because for the first time the teacher actually spent a decent amount of time talking about the things that we should be looking out for, such as proportions, anatomy, etc.
… and then we were back to drawing random stuff again. No idea what lesson we were supposed to be learning from these. Maybe it was just practice for the sake of practice.
My final body of work
The class started off with myself and about 6 others. The rest were probably in their early 40’s onwards. We never really hit it off because there was no introductions or ice breaker – we just sat down and started drawing the minute we walked into the classroom.
The last lesson was attended by only one other lady and myself. Tragic, ‘coz that was the most interesting lesson – drawing bodies:
You decide: was that was worth $160?