I dropped into a still-life drawing class offered at our local library this morning in hopes that there might be a spot for me. My energy is still not great these days, so I didn’t sign up in advance. I lucked out and took the one slot that was open. It was so much fun!
It was great to do the warm up exercises (big swishing gestures/lines using our whole arms) and to see how the teacher set up an intense light over the fruit in the dim room to make for good contrast. Wish I had taken a shot of the whole room while I was at it. There were two long rows of tables set up with sheets of newsprint, dark pencils and gum erasers. Each row seated about 8 people, and we all faced three tables in the center of the room that held the apples.
The apple on pink paper was a warm up drawing on newsprint. It was amazing to move to the nicer drawing paper and work a little smaller. The pencil just loves the texture in a good paper.
The teacher, Silvina Day, pointed out that while the reflected light I saw toward the bottom of the apple was there, I was giving it too much value, so it would confuse the viewer. That was a great lesson for me. Observe closely, but make judicious decisions. So in the more finished drawing it’s subtler. As she said, “Rule your subject, don’t let it rule you.”
These shots aren’t the best, as I took them in low light with my camera phone. I can see that the pear drawing needs more subtle shading. We had less time with that subject. Another valuable lesson I took from the class was that the longer you are asked to/allow yourself to spend with a subject, the more you will see.
And then we ate the apples! It felt slightly transgressive to eat them, having just bonded with them, but they were delicious.
Everyone was really friendly and supportive, and we had fun taking little breaks to walk around and look at each other’s work. Today I probably more than doubled the number of people in Acton whose names I know. When we first moved here, I was driving down to Burbank every weekday, so I’d be gone for 10 + hours, and just come home and maybe hike, at, fall into bed. I thought about joining the Arts Council when it was founded a few years ago, but I had a weird case of shyness, I guess. I’m a member of The Friends of the Acton Library, but I haven’t been to a meeting or volunteered. Even though I work at home two days a week now, I’m still usually very busy and I do a lot of work with Songmakers. I’ve been wanting to get involved locally, but there’s always this fear, for me, that I’ll over commit and end up exhausted. Or that everyone will be much more something than I am.
Well, now I’m excited about taking the next two monthly workshops, ceramics in July and advanced still life in August. I talked to some of the arts council members and they may organize a trip to The Getty. And I think I’m going to sign up for Silvana’s weekly oil painting workshop, which starts in July. It’s reasonably priced and it’s maybe a mile from my house! I really liked her style of instruction and her positiveness. When my friend Noel Alumit started taking oil painting classes and producing amazing work (I have one of his hanging on my wall) I was tempted to join the class he was in, but it’s 50 miles from home and that makes for a long, long work/workshop day. No more excuses.
It was good to get out of my comfort zone. Wonderful to just do something lively and lifelike, having been pretty much a home bound for the past month. My wonderful partner, cheerleader and chauffeur, Hydra (I’m still not able to drive), makes it all possible.