I recently took some drawing classes at a small Atelier here in Montreal, in a lovely loft in the old port. They were taught by a married couple who helped me tremendously with some basic drawing techniques (blocking in, mass drawing, etc.). Some basic exercises included: drawing from casts, rendering only the darkest shadow shaped, as in with this example of a cast Beethoven’s bust:
The final project was a rendering David's eye (Michelangelo) using a range of graphite and white pencils:
I’ve always loved art, but like too many people was driven away from classes in high school by inadequate teachers; one Mme. Champoux, whom I admired for her eccentric fashion sense – leg warmers and witchy heels, crazy unbrushed grey hair, jagged layers of liquid eyeliner but who was always chastising me in anguished tones: C’est trop rigide, Sarah! And then the cold, not-nearly-eccentric-enough Mrs. Sparkhall who clearly despised anyone who did not trade in perfect verisimilitude, or who dared speak above a whisper in her class.
Alas! I went along years painting and drawing without any real sense of what I was doing , which is fine except that often things would turn out badly and I’d get so frustrated with my lack of technique and control that I’d rip up my efforts and swear off the whole enterprise for months. But now, with some simple tools at my disposal, I’m able to do things I’m quite happy with without first destroying fifteen dismal attempts. I did this lying in bed with a cold using just graphite and water-colour pencils:
It’s based on a portrait of Annie Chierney by the Victorian photographer Julia Margaret Cameron entitled “Our Beautiful Birdie.” It doesn’t look much like the original, but then I suppose that’s not the point. I had a friend who knows about these things scan it for me, and I hope to have some prints of for sale later this week in my Etsy store.