I went to a Girls Grammar school and Art was pretty low down on the curriculum after Latin and other useful subjects – so I never “learned’ to draw. To be honest I went from loving to paint and draw and make things as a child, to pretty much never picking up a pencil or paintbrush once I turned 11. Art at secondary school consisted of making collages with dried pasta and cornflakes (mine sometimes grew mold as I would experiment with leftover breakfast) or really crap clay pots that my dear mother would lovingly keep in her kitchen even though the lids didn’t fit, they wobbled about and were only big enough to hold two large olives. I just accepted that I was rubbish at art, and that was that………..until last autumn when I spotted a class at my local College in Brighton called “Drawing for the Terrified!”:
I rang up just to make sure it wouldn’t be full of talented folk in need of a bit of ego stroking – and when I was reassured it was for the “stick men only” type of artist – I signed up.
Amy Dury – my tutor for the 10 week course – was fantastic. She expelled the big myths “people who can draw are just born with a gift” and “drawing can’t really be taught” and made us begin to look at drawing in a different way. In our very first lesson she gave us “upside down drawings”. We couldn’t make sense of what we were copying so had to just focus on lines and shapes instead. Many of us fear not being able to reproduce what’s in front of us. We look at the person or object that we’re attempting to draw and and we become paralysed. We don’t know where to begin and our minds fill up with the things we associate with that object or person, rather than really noticing the shapes, tones, shadows and lines. Basically we dwell too much on WHAT we are drawing and not how it’s made up. I drew the upside down body of a man – which turned out to be a Raphael drawing – here is the original:
My jaw literally dropped when I turned both of the above the right way up .. he looked human!! (well, apart from the mutant hand) and not a matchstick in sight – and I did it all by myself with just a pencil and a bit of paper – .. it was a real epiphany.. and I URGE all of you with a fear of drawing to have a go.
Coming next – Celebrating negative space..