Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Drawing for Non-Artists...

...is the title of an art class that I took this summer.  All of you who know me know that art is not really my thing.  Or at least I've never seen it as my thing.  So I was quite surprised, or really more like shocked, when Dave presented me with the class folder and paperwork and told me that the art class was a Mother's Day gift.  At first, I didn't even want to accept the gift.  Considering the fact that I hated coloring as I child, I kind of resigned myself to the fact that I would never be an artist.

It felt like a big step for me to show up at the first class, but I managed to make it there with an open mind.  During the six classes, I learned some basic drawing theory (who knew that a drawings's focal point shouldn't be located at the center of the drawing!), made some new friends, and faced my fear of being totally uncreative and boring.  And my drawings weren't horrible!  In most cases, you can actually tell what I was trying to draw.

For our fourth class, we were to complete an expressionist drawing.  Our instructor told us to bring an object or photo to class and gave us a short explanation of expressive artwork.  She said that artists would often choose a situation or photo and then distort or exaggerate some aspect of the subject to express the feelings that the artist attaches to the subject.  She showed us several examples of expressive pieces from a textbook, including a painting of a streetlight.  I loved how the streams and the brightness of the light contrasted with the dark sky.  I loved how the light was winning against the dark.

So I decided to look for a photo of a fountain.  I was hoping to emphasize the size and number of drops of water to express the life, joy, and abundance that I associate with a fountain.  You might imagine how frustrated I was when I was unable to find a photo that matched the image in my mind.  When I finally exhausted my internet search, I noticed a magazine on our dining room table.  As I was flipping through it, I discovered Jon Warren's image of several women and children carrying water through a dry land in the early morning.  Right away, I knew that this was what I wanted to draw.

I hurried to class with the magazine and my art supplies.  As I sat down to draw, I intended to emphasize the rays and the brightness of the sun, symbolizing hope in the midst of a tedious and wearying, but necessary, task.  But as I continued, I found that the only thing that I felt compelled to express was the truth about these real people and their predicament.

The most important thing that I learned during my art class is that you need to look intently at something before you can draw it correctly.  You have to study your subject.  You can't look away because you're distracted or have too little time, or because you're disturbed by what you find as you investigate.  Your discoveries may alter your artwork, your thinking, or even your life.

So, how specifically did this situation result in a marathon registration, fundraising, and this blog?  You'll have to keep reading for the continuation of this story.

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