For the past two years the Variants have behaved like those annoying guests who refuse to leave, long after the party’s over. Even after we finally get angry, and push them out the door, they linger and lurk for an opportunity to mutate; then sneak back into our lives and go viral.
But things are different now.
Our little drawing community is vaccinated yet cautious. We remain motivated and curious. Many of us have sketched together for a number of years—in the studio and on-location—and have become good friends.
Sketchy Reunion: City Hall
Over the years, our friendships have fostered a culture of learning and trust. We’ve learned new techniques and approaches for sketching our subjects. We’ve learned to trust our intuition and the lines we draw on the page. Each experience of drawing together becomes a valuable context for improving our skills.
The first of three summer workshops was Sketchbook Basics at Santa Cruz City Hall. The courtyard garden area became a plein air classroom for reconnecting to our visual vocabulary.
Since closing my studio a year and a half ago due to Covid, it is a joy to finally connect with students through on-location workshops and private sessions. We are escaping digital screens, getting outdoors, and getting real with our sketchbooks at various locations.
“What’s the difference between drawing indoors while looking at a computer screen or drawing outdoors in real life?” I asked.
With outstretched arms gesturing toward a nearby tree looming overhead, Eva replied, “The thing you’re drawing is right here, right in front of you!”
Instead of sitting in front of a screen, youth sketchers Eva and Naomi chose to sit in a wooded area near their homes for our drawing session (shown above). Just two good friends sharing a beautiful afternoon, learning to draw in nature.
Our irrepressible youth sketchers have forged ahead to improve their drawing skills while enduring month after month of pandemic restrictions. And they’re staying true to their passion for drawing as they balance online school courses with phased reopening of hybrid classrooms.
Youth sketcher Scout emailed me several drawings of animals that she did during a Cabrillo College art course. Scout practiced various techniques including making dots to create a stipple effect in her beautiful ink composition (shown above).
Animals seem to be a favorite subject of interest for our community of sketchers. The wilder the creature, the better.
Learning at school in the virtual digital world has not been easy to navigate for many kids. But finished drawings are tangible results that students can hold in their hands or hang on their bedroom wall in the real world. Our diligent sketchers apply their drawing skills to school assignments whenever possible.
With a cautious sigh of relief, we glance in the rearview mirror while leaving a turbulent 2020 in the dust behind us. But let’s not forget the great strides we made during our Drawing Lab sessions in the months prior to the pandemic shutdown.
In fact, our lively student sessions spanned the course of 11 years before I had to close the Scribbles Institute studio permanently due to Covid restrictions.
A Stroll Down Memory Lane As a special thanks to all of you for the many wonderful memories of working together during the past decade, I created this music video featuring our innovative Drawing Lab sessions.
Please enjoy watching it. You may see someone you know! Here’s the link:
Showing off our finished drawings to family and friends can be gratifying. Enthusiastic viewers appreciate your techniques and may even understand that you spend many hours practicing to improve your skills. But hidden to their eyes is your dedication to doing studies—a most misunderstood aspect of learning to draw from observation.
In the tradition of the Renaissance artists, Naomi (shown above) learns the importance of studying as she practices using the system of perspective drawing.
Early Egyptian, Greek, and Italian Renaissance artists and artisans used drawing to study their subjects. They made countless study sketches to solve problems, prepare artwork, and map out elaborate architecture.
By doing study sketches, students at the Scribbles Institute learn to block in dominant shapes of their subject, sketch accurate contours, and confidently work their way toward drawing final compositions.
Waking up to a misty Payne’s Gray sky that engulfs coastal Santa Cruz is common at this time of year. On this particular Saturday morning, I was hoping for summer sunshine that would keep our paper dry and help us to see and sketch crucial shadows.
Anticipation ran high as I packed my sketchbook and a lunch. A small tribe of my most ardent studio students was gathering for a workshop at one of my favorite outdoor sketching locations, Wilder Ranch State Park. Continue reading Sketches In Paradise→
While paging through Charles Bargue’s Drawing course book, Scout’s eyes lit up as we came upon the print of the plaster cast torso.
“It even has block-in lines!” she said enthusiastically, referring to the angled directional lines that would help her depict weight distribution of the figure’s muscles. We promptly bookmarked the page as the subject for her drawing session.
Choosing a subject to draw is an important aspect of the drawing experience. Your subject should strike an emotional chord that stimulates your eye, builds your skills, and fits your purpose for drawing.
The world can be a crazy place these days. Ignoring the disturbing news of cultural upheaval and catastrophic disasters can be difficult, to say the least. Times like these make me think back to when I was a kid, and how easy it was to escape the world’s problems by hiding out in my bedroom and drawing pictures all day. Continue reading Drawing Out Your Inner Kid→