Sunday, May 12, 2013

Drawing at Surel's Place

Did I mention that I am an art-workshopolic?  On Saturday, I attended a drawing workshop at Surel's Place in Garden City.  It was free, so how could I resist?

For those who do not know, Surel Mitchell was a local artist.  Unfortunately, I did not know her personally, but knew of her.  After she passed away, her house was donated to the city and is now used  for an artist-in-residence.

I like how the artwork and books owned by Surel are still there.  Here is a small, blurry picture of the tiny bathroom that has artwork covering almost every inch of the walls.  These were by different artists.

The current artist-in-residence is Jennifer Wu and she was the workshop instructor.  What we did was look at artworks by some of the masters and drew them.  I liked what Jennifer said at the beginning, that it doesn't matter if we end up with something looking like the painting, the point is to see what the artist did. And we did not share our drawings, although you could see what others were doing.

Also, we were asked to point out things we noticed about the painting as we were sketching.  It really is a good exercise as you are looking at a piece for an extended period of time and noticing things you wouldn't if you only spent five minutes looking.  It also makes you appreciate the artwork more.

We spent about a half an hour on each drawing looking at a projected image on a screen.  All the artworks were paintings, so translating it into a drawing was a little different.  We were asked to bring our own drawing supplies.  So, I brought my sketchbook, some larger paper and an assortment of pens and pencils.

While she was in town, our printmaking instructor, Rose Davies (from Wales), gave a little talk about her daily sketching habit. She uses pens for her sketching and at one point said that pencils were for wussies (jokingly, I think).  But at another time when she was talking about teaching rehab patients to draw, she said she never gives them pencils because it is too advanced for them.  So, I'm not sure where she really stands on the issue, except that she uses a pen.

I admit I am a wuss and like to use pencil in case I would like to erase.  I understand that the point of the pen is to commit to the line and not worry about mistakes, I guess.

Anyway, I used my mechanical pencil and drew in my regular sketchbook.  I did not have my eraser out and, hence, did not use one.

Here is my first drawing.  We were looking at Picasso's A Muse.  I scanned all these drawings in black and white so the contrast is not really as much as it seems here.

Since I started the drawing on the left hand side of the paper, I ran out of room when I got to the second figure on the right.  You can see a couple of mistakes where I was not able to erase.

For the second drawing, we looked at a still life by Cezanne.  This artwork had a lot of dark values and was very painterly, which made it hard to translate into a drawing.

The third artwork was Bonnard's Dining Room in the Country.

By the last drawing, I was getting tired of drawing the masters.  The last piece was a Matisse.  So instead of drawing it, I decided to draw what I was seeing in the room.  

Here you can see the projector and the screen we were looking at and some of the other things around it.

Here is what it really looks like.

And here is some of Jennifer's work. (You might recognize the bathroom in the lower left corner.)

Some insights I had doing the exercise:
- I approached my drawing differently with the different styles of painting.
- I started getting better at the proportions as we went along (more practice).
- I didn't need an eraser as much as I thought (there were only a few places I would have liked to erase).
- I should do this exercise more often.

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