|7/31/18 Tree study at Volunteer Park|
A few days after I returned from Portugal, I was still getting over jetlag when I hit the ground running and started a new class at Gage Academy called Drawing Nature, taught by Kathleen Moore. It’s a five-week, half-term class, which is a format that the school offers only in the summer. I’ve taken other five-week courses, and I wish they’d offer them year-round. The commitment isn’t too long to feel burdensome (in either time or cost), and it’s also a great way to try out an unfamiliar instructor before possibly committing to the same instructor for a longer term.
|8/7/18 Kubota Gardens|
What caught my attention when I initially read the course description was that the class meets on location in various city parks. Yes – on location! Last year when I was studying colored pencil and later graphite with Suzanne Brooker, you heard me complain about how frustrating it was to work only from photos instead of from actual landscapes. Although I understand why learning from photos is useful and even necessary, and I certainly learned more that way than I ever could if I had to work with unpredictable factors like weather and shifting light, I still missed the energy and real-ness that comes only from drawing on location. So when I saw that this late-summer class would meet only outdoors and not in the classroom, I couldn’t sign up fast enough!
Although Moore’s focus is on nature, she encourages us to include whatever human-made objects might appear in city park landscapes (such as the Moon Bridge at Kubota Gardens or the cranes at Green Lake), so it all feels like urban sketching to me. In the first two classes, we used graphite. In the third, we used ink (bottom of post). Although on the supply list she had recommended a technical pen, I talked to her about using a fountain pen instead, and she wholeheartedly encouraged me to use one. I appreciate her openness to media.
Before starting a drawing, we are required to make at least three thumbnails to explore composition and, more importantly, to map out the values clearly. While I’ve heard the thumbnail mantra from nearly every instructor and book I’ve studied from, thumbnails are generally used for composition study. This is my first experience with using thumbnails as a values map, and while it feels tedious, I must admit it’s helpful. Making thumbnails forces me to look for the values and consequently reject some compositions quickly if I see that the value contrasts might not be strong enough for a good drawing.
|8/14/18 Green Lake|