This week was my last at London Fine Art Studios before my move to Huang Hai University in Zhumadian, China.
My Foundation 1 students did their first 3 hour charcoal drawing. It was a big step for them and will take a few more attempts before they are confident in rendering a drawing.
My Foundation 2 students continued their first 12 hour drawing. They struggled with it as I expected. I mainly gave them the task so they could experience the frustration and emotional rollercoaster of attempting to finish a drawing. Preparing yourself for the psychological difficulty of finishing a drawing is as important as understanding technique.
In my Anatomy class we finished drawing skeletal anatomy and caught several students who had been absent. At the end of class I passed the flame – or in this case, human skeleton – to Michael Gallone who will be running the show from now on.
Over the last few weeks I’ve continued taking my Foundation 1 students through the basics of drawing and proportions (see the below demonstrations). On week for we moved on to shading and modelling. The first attempt is always a shock for students, so I’m sure I’ll have to go through a demonstration again next week.
My Foundation 2 students started a 12 hour drawing. This will be their longest drawing yet, and at the moment they are very unsure about how they could draw something for 12 hours. I have a feeling next week will be mostly about learning how to push through the drudgery of polishing a drawing.
I did something slightly different with my Anatomy students this term. When we begin our 8 week project, we start by measuring the points where bone comes to skin. I find that most students struggle with this, so we spent a day going over how to measure. Following this we started our 8 week project and have begun working on skeletal anatomy.
My Foundation students continued studying colour. After their long three hour paintings last week, I had them attempt four 30 minute paintings. See my above examples. There was a huge improvement in the energy of the classroom. My students stepped up to the challenge and the development from their first to last painting was obvious.
Here’s the incredible work from my student Sophie Williams. Throughout the term I have been greatly impressed by her ability to learn quickly and willingness to take risks. This painting is a great example of her understanding of painting with mass, material handling and colour.
My Anatomy class finished their long project today. I think more than anything they learned just how much there is to learn. Many of my students want to do another term dissecting the figure.
I spent the last week with my nose buried in my work trying to get ready for the Thought Bubble Comic Festival so here’s my weekly post on teaching at London Fine Art studios a week late. More on my experience at the festival and sleep deprived hallucinations later.
My foundation classes had their last class of charcoal drawing and I couldn’t be more ready to move on to oil paint. It’s been ages since I’ve got to get the paint out and I’m starting to realise how much I missed it.
I had to make an intervention with my foundation students this week. A healthy amount of self criticism is good. Students who think everything they do is good and refuse to take a critique are pointless to work with. On the other side of the spectrum, students who are overly self critical never build the self confidence to move forward. I’ve been dealing with a third variety and it’s taken me some time to wrap my head around it.
Often when I approach a student to give a critique they say their drawing is horrible, terrible, a monster, etc. before I’m even able to get a word out. Then follow up each point a make with a reiteration. At first, I thought this might be a cultural difference – Americans are over positive and Brits, overly self-deprivating – but I always thought there was something odd about it. I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s some sort of ego protection. By dismissing their work, they are separating it from themselves and failing to focus on their process having a problem which created the poor work. This moves the critique away from their actions and on to something that is not them.
I had my limit of ego protection last week so I pulled the class together and told them to leave it at the door. Be self critical. It will enable you to develop but make sure it is in a way that is about aiding progress, not hindering it.
My anatomy class was much more straightforward. We did our last day of skeletal anatomy and will be moving on to muscles this week.
I gave them a pop quiz on the anatomy we’ve gone over so far. Punishment for getting a question wrong was public shaming via the Shame Bell Mobile App. I highly recommend it for motivating students.
I'm back at London Fine Art Studios for the Fall term. This year I'm teaching three classes; Gesture & Anatomy and two sessions of the Foundation Course.
In week one I gave an introduction to drawing with charcoal to my foundation students and discussed basic drawing techniques. In my anatomy class I reviewed perspective before we start deconstructing the human figure next week. The drawing above is one of my in class demonstrations.
Keep an eye on my blog for more updates!