Monday, June 19, 2006

Sketching for Real - two weeks and 10,000 hits later

Over the last two weeks "Sketching for Real", my internet drawing class, on the Wet Canvas website has generated approximately 327 sketches, 650 posts and over 10,000 viewings. This post is me 'tooting my horn' about what we achieved during the first two weeks of the class.

At the beginning of the class notes, I posted the following quotes. Over the course of the last two weeks it has been a real pleasure to watch as the sketching class students began to grasp the truth of the following:
“You can't do sketches enough. Sketch everything and keep your curiosity fresh.”
John Singer Sargent

"It is only by drawing often, drawing everything, drawing incessantly, that one fine day you discover to your surprise that you have rendered something in its true character."
Camille Pissarro

“It’s amazing how loose some people become in their sketchbook drawing simply because they have a carefree approach and don’t become locked down in trying to make finished works”
Robert Wade
The students really excelled themselves. I've been incredibly impressed with the way students applied tenacity and courage as well as effort and their existing drawing skills to try drawing in new ways and new places. Particularly impressive were all those people who took themselves out of their own personal comfort zone. It has been such a special and personal pleasure for me to know that - as a result of the class:
  • many are now carrying a sketchbook everywhere they go - even to church!
  • some students have learned how to draw from life for the first time ever - and are thoroughly enjoying it after the initial warm up
  • most have learned how to sketch quickly - although this also took most far outside their personal comfort zones. Drawing quickly enabled them to develop a very useful skill for sketching from life. Many have now also realised how drawing quickly also makes drawing on a daily basis an achievable target.
  • The sketching of many students also loosened up as a result of drawing more quickly - less detail and more hatching were both popular approaches. Students are now much less worried about sketches which don't look quite right when judged next to a photo - and are much more encouraged by the results they were able to achieve during class.
  • the learning was infectious and most of those who have been drawing and painting 'en plein air' for sometime tried new ways of sketching and developed new approaches during the course of the class.
  • students worked out what they needed for a sketching kit - and tried out and swopped notes about lots of new pencils, pens, sketchbooks etc in the process
  • most ventured outside for sketching trips - and experienced 'weather'(!) ;) and the ever-changing shadows
  • most faced up the big challenge of sketching in public. Many sketched in public for the very first time and are no longer as concerned about the things which initially caused some people to be anxious.
  • all students generated the most enormous quantity of sketches during the two weeks.
On the whole I think most people found it easier to sketch in public if they started in a public interior - such as a Starbucks. I think the reference links to a Starbucks series of drawings (on Wally's blog) may well have caused a small upswing in Starbucks takings as various students broke their duck on sketching in public by starting in Starbucks. (Maybe Starbucks ought to run a sketching competition?)

An additional bonus of the class was the self-evaluation which I asked each student to do in relation to the artwork they produced and the experiences they had. The honesty and thought that went into many of the self-evaluations was truly admirable.

On a personal note it's been an interesting time for me as tutor time had some planned (prior drawing commitments, a flying visit from my sister who lives in Australia) and unplanned interruptions (my avoidance of my very hot computer during extremely hot weather in London - closely followed by a tropical rainstorm (one and a half inches in one hour) and flooding in my home - and then one morning the computer refused to let me have any pictures at all on screen! ) However I was very ably supported by other WC stalwarts while I was experiencing downtime. So - it wasn't all plain sailing for me - but, all in all, it seems to have been been a very rewarding experience for all concerned with some great results.

The Class now continues on an ongoing basis as part of the Drawing 102 series. I'm very confident that the efforts of the students over the last two weeks will help and encourage many others to pick up their sketchbook and 'have a go'.

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