Teaching Drawing: Why Demonstrate Different Media?January 18, 2016
Above: Sakura Pigma BB (Bold Brush) Pen sketch of Dick sitting in the TV room, with purple washes of watercolor. (Orange is a Montana Marker—I didn’t put it together properly after refilling it, so it leaked.) In a 9 x 12 inch Fabriano Venezia journal. The Sakura Pigma BB is a felt-tipped brush pen, so it makes a daily uniform bold stroke that you can alter with pressure and angle of application, but which will, after the initial breaking in, never give you the really light hairlines you might want now and then. It makes up for this wear issue by mating well with watercolor.
As February fast approaches I find myself making notes during the day—little points I hope to share with students in the new “Drawing Practice: Drawing Live Subjects in Public” class that begins on January 31.
While there is a kit of supplies a student can purchase for work in this class, one of the great aspects of this class for me is the reality that students don’t need to purchase anything at all. They can start and finish the class using a no. 2 pencil and bond copier paper. They can still work on all the concepts, because even if they don’t use wet media (which some of the lessons cover) they can still work on issues of contrast, value, and shading technique with dry media.
Why then, if one doesn’t need a bunch of supplies, do I present the lessons using a variety of media?
I believe that each medium explored brings something new to our understanding of getting 3-dimensional subjects down on paper. I believe that each medium brings its own joys and strengths, as well as its challenges to the act of sketching. I also know, after spending years helping students draw, that every individual will develop preferences and fondnesses for particular media.
I believe it’s my job as a teacher to help them work with these preferences to improve their skills, but also to push them to experiment so they can develop new skills. In this way the act of drawing becomes an adventure. The process of drawing becomes a series of experiments through which the student gains an understanding of his own process and a path to his unique voice.
Through the exploration of different media I am able to offer all students options. Some of these options may not be appealing to them at this point in their artistic journey, but because I am exposing them to these options and showing through demonstration how one approaches new media, I enable them to build a strong and durable daily drawing habit that is not dependent on one particular approach, but instead is kept lively and engaging. I seek to awake the wonder that close observation and drawing can bring.
Every day for the first 30 days of class I am actively involved. I view student work and answer students’ questions. I train them in new and helpful ways to discuss their art. By offering students the opportunity to receive this type of feedback, I am able to help them work through the sticking points they encounter.
But even when the first habit-building stage of class is over students have the opportunity to continue in the classroom for a year—to rewatch the videos and review the classroom discussions and to try the new media. I even spend time at the end of the first month working with class on ways to develop goals and long-term skill-building strategies. For some students, exploring different media will come after they have developed their hand-eye coordination with a favorite medium. Since I've demonstrated in a variety of media they will be able to return to the videos and explore further at a later time.
There is something fabulously fun for me in helping students train their eyes, hands, and minds to create something on paper that speaks to how they see the world. I’m looking forward to what the new group of students will create.
Life will always be busy. Give yourself an opportunity now to take your drawing practice to a new level so that you can build a strong foundation of skills, beat your internal critic down, and discover the joy of getting what you see down on paper. There is something magical and thrilling about sketching in public and capturing live subjects on the page. I hope you’ll come and join us for this adventure. Click here to register.