“You’re not going to hit it perfectly the first time. Try to think of it as an experience.”
On Saturday, I had the pleasure of taking a 3-hour figure drawing class at 7th Street Studios in Perkasie, Pennsylvania. The instructor was Abigail Synnestvedt, an amazing artist whom I had been following on instagram for some time, and I was especially eager to take her class.
7th Street Studios is run by Taryn Day, another fantastic artist who teaches classes there. I had never been to this art space before, and I was absolutely delighted as I stepped into the bright, spacious room. It was an old building, with high ceilings and large windows that let in plenty of sunlight and fresh air. There were about a dozen students in total who attended the class.
The class was absolutely wonderful. I appreciated Abigail’s calm and encouraging teaching style. She started off by showing us pictures from some of her favorite art books. One of them was Drawing Lessons of the Great Masters by Robert Beverly Hale. We looked at drawings by many artists, including Rubens, Cambiaso, and Käthe Kollwitz.
Notes from the class:
We can make analogies, or metaphors, with the visual elements in our drawing. For example, we can think of a head as a cube or an egg, and the neck as a cylinder.
Art is really just a few very basic concepts that take a whole lifetime to learn.
Look for the centerline in a figure. Pay attention to the orientation. (I.e. eyes are on a plane together.)
Imagine a plane in space.
Look at Euan Uglow’s figures.
How does the figure exist in space? Give a notation, a small mark or line, to make note of things.
If you’re having trouble with a pose, walk around the model to see what the body is doing, to understand it from difficult angles. (Sculptors do this regularly.)
Train your eye to see the movement
You could almost think of the negative space as so powerful that it’s releasing the shape.
Look at Käthe Kollwitz and how her drawings are searching.
Approach the drawing like you are asking a question. What is this doing? Drawing is like asking questions.
If something isn’t quite right, just erase it. It’s no big deal. Or, just move to another part of the body, sometimes fixing that will fix the original problem.
For those interested, Abigail Synnestvedt is teaching a Self Portrait Painting Workshop this Saturday, June 15th!
“Art is the organization of shapes.” — Edwin Dickinson