I'm teaching an adult class on "art fundamentals" - things like line, colour, shape etc. It is an interesting exercise for me because my contrary nature makes me not want to follow the "rules". Last night's session was on shape. This was a particularly difficult one for me. I've actively avoided thinking about the basic shapes of objects for most of my life, and I know exactly why.
When I was a child, someone (yes, I do remember who it was) gave me a book about drawing birds. The book had step by step instructions for drawing a variety of birds. Each drawing started with a basic egg shape and built from there. I tried to follow the directions. I really did, but laying down those basic shapes sucked all the joy out of drawing for me. I tossed the book aside, and kept drawing my own way. However, somewhere deep down inside, I believed that one day, (when I became a "grown up"), I would understand how to do things in a logical, systematic way, instead of in my own random, childish, juvenile way. Well, perhaps I didn't quite use those words at the time - I was only 8 after all, but nevertheless, that's what I thought for a very long time.
In one of her books, Lynda Barry (look her up if you don't know her work) writes about how kids draw simply for the joy of making lines on a page, they don't worry about what the lines look like, or what they will become, they just draw. She says that for many of us, at some point that all changes, and we start to worry about whether or not our drawings look any good, and the "two questions" that take over. The two questions are "is it good?" and "does it suck?" I feel like teaching adults to draw is really about teaching them to forget about the two questions.
Here's some of the art that people did yesterday. I'm really excited at how they turned out.
Before the adult class, I had two children's classes. We read a book called "A Perfect Square" by Michael Hill, and then made art from a "perfect square" of origami paper. I liked the activity enough that I used it in the adult class as well. Here's a peek. The top row are by 3-4 year olds, the middle row by 5-7 year old and the bottom row by grown-ups.