Art Class & Rules

January 09, 2013


Art class is a love/hate relationship for me.  I know, sounds strange coming from an artist.  Let me explain.

The first nine years of my education, in elementary school, art was part of our curriculum.  We learned drawing, painting, collage, stained glass using tissue paper, and pottery to name a few.  It was my absolute favorite class.  My elementary school was very small.  We had an 8th grade graduating class of 18 kids, which meant we basically knew no one in our freshman class of 416 students.  I was extremely timid and shy, too much of a scaredy cat to enroll in art class.

Fast forward to college.  I attended community college, but again, art class scared me.  Instead, I took accounting.  I was good with numbers, there was a right & wrong answer, and public critiques were not part of the equation.  Even though numbers came easy to me, I didn't find it interesting.  I moved a little in the art direction with interior design courses.  Some drawing required, but perfection was obtained with tools, such as rulers and templates.  A small amount of critique was to be had, a surprise to me, but I made it through without any cuts or bruises.

It wasn't until I was 27, after a defining moment in my life, did I sign up for an art class.  My cousin and I took a scratchboard class at a local art league.  I LOVED IT!  I created a few scratchboards and then stumbled upon an online artist community called WetCanvas.  They were offering free online drawing lessons.  I followed along, learned a lot, drew a lot, posted my work and they critiqued it.  Critiques weren't so scary when I could hide behind a computer!  Who would've thunk they would actually be so friendly and helpful?!  I should've done this years ago!!

At age 30, I signed up for my first real drawing class.  I HATED IT!  I only lasted two classes before I dropped out.  The instructor was close to 80 years old, he couldn't keep things straight.  I'm pretty sure he was blind and I found all the tools very cumbersome.  It was not for me at all!  I didn't want to use rulers and measure things.  No fun there!  I continued drawing on my own while researching certain techniques online.

Last year, I registered for Drawing I at the community college.  Again, I found all the techniques and tools not my cup of tea (as my Grandmother would say), but my teacher was very intriguing.  I stuck with the entire class, two nights a week for 16 weeks and I learned a lot.  I'm happy I have one drawing class under my belt.

The drawing above was my final project.  We were instructed to make a list of adjectives to describe our personality, which we would turn into a self-portrait.  We were to ask friends and family to also give us complimentary and unflattering adjectives.  I'm sure you all can imagine how easy that was!  Turns out, people don't like saying unflattering things to your face...even when told it was okay.

Here's a breakdown of the thought process behind my self-portrait.  I began with an easel (for artist) which I placed a mirror on.  The mirror represented the adjective my brother offered, confined.  The mirror is not a perfect shape, a bit awkward, just like me at times.  The three books represent introversion, my interest in astrology and drawing.  The bookmark represents the procrastinating side of me.  The bulletin board displays a to-do list, which represents my analytical, organized side.  My hand covering half of my face represents my shyness.  All of my artwork exudes my attention to detail.

This was one of my favorite drawings from 2012.  It was drawn on fancy deckle edged paper and took 12 hours to complete.  I spent over $200 to have it custom framed with a floating mount to show off the fancy paper.  I think my favorite part of the drawing is my hair!

Art class can teach a person many things about art.  There's a lot to be learned.  The atmosphere is inspiring and you meet others with your same interest.  Critiques are very helpful for improvement.  Often your classmates will see aspects in your art that you didn't recognize until it was pointed out.  However, I hate tools, measuring, having to draw as told instead of just going with it.  I prefer my unstructured, independent methods and believe there isn't a right or wrong to art.  And, that's why art can be whatever we want it to be!  Each individual person determines what art is to them.

How do you feel about art?  Do you enjoy the rules & techniques or would you prefer to just fly by the seat of your pants? What kind of art do you hang in your home?

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