The end of November saw the second module of my FDAD course at West Dean College, this time it was drawing with 5 tutors but being a sucker for punishment I also tagged a FDAD drawing day onto the start. The drawing days are all about exploring creativity and generally seem to involve a large still life and a series of exercises. Our still life was a set of 5 manikins covered in printed and torn /crumpled pieces of paper.
I tried drawing the manikins, really I did! 🙂 But kept being drawn back to a couple of pieces of crumpled up paper with a black and white stripey print. I most liked the collage pieces I made from looking at those:
I think some of these have potential for interpretation in felt, I was sorting through my bag of felted off-cuts today and thinking some could be used for this…
Drawing with a different tutor each day turned out to be quite challenging, largely because they all disagreed on the best approach. It felt like we were continually unlearning what we had discovered the previous day! That said, it was great to be exposed to so many differing points of view 🙂
Day 1 of the course was Accuracy and Observation with Andrew Fitchet. Andrew provided some useful techniques for planning out where each element will sit on the page and maintaining scale and proportion but I confess I found his delicate, controlled approach quite hard work, I was quite relieved when we were encouraged to use charcoal instead of pencil:
In the afternoon we decamped to the house to look at perspective (I think Andrew may have wandered into Maxine’s territory here) and then back to the studio for another still life:
Day 2 was spent with John T Freeman, for life drawing. While I gathered useful information and tips from all the tutors, I think this was the session that I have used most so far. John taught us his approach to figure drawing, to him drawing should be like writing and his method for drawing figures has really loosened up my approach to life drawing and made it possible to sketch figures very quickly or from imagination, something I really struggled with before.
Initially he had us sketching sportsmen in unusual poses from the sports section of a newspaper:
Then we had a life model to draw from:
Since the day with John I have been sketching dancing figures from imagination:
Day 4 was spent with Veronique Maria, “drawing with the senses” this was a somewhat New-Age blend of mindfulness, drawing and sculpting with your eyes closed, and drawing to music. While I enjoy drawing to music I’m not sure drawing blindfolded was all that helpful, I’m sure a toddler with a pack of crayons could produce something more interesting to look at. They were such a dreadful mess I’m not going to post them here.
This piece was drawn to music in near darkness and was inspired by a glimpse into a box of squash just before we started:
This is one of the squash I drew for fun in between taught sessions:
This next piece involved drawing an object you could not see but only feel (it was hidden in a bag that you put your hand into), this was interesting and I enjoyed it. The object turned out to be a shell and here it is drawn “blind” from several different angles:
Day 5 was with Freya Pocklington, drawing from imagination, this was the shortest of the days but we packed a lot in, covering some approaches to surrealism and charcoal reduction. One of the first exercises she gave us was to create a drawing in less than 10 min that encompasses the words; storm, room, jealous and dancer. Looking at this now I realise “room” could have been interpreted as space to move.
Charcoal reduction, drawn from a stuffed head in the main house:
Finally, applying some principles of surrealism to objects found in the house:
Scale: Cats teeth witnessed through and open door / Texture: fur on an eyeball
Parts: Piano keys replaced with cat paws / Place: diving bell on a can-can dancer
All in all, a very good but thoroughly exhausting week. I would definitely recommend it to anyone who wants to expand their drawing skills and the good news is you don’t need to be a FDAD student to attend the West Dean short courses.
I probably will not be able to post next week but hope you all have a wonderful holiday season and find some time to be creative in between tending to your families’ needs.