I heard that Bradford School of Art were putting on some free – yes, free (!) – classes on a Saturday morning for anyone who was interested. As well as dressmaking and printmaking there was a life drawing course. Nothing could be more out of my comfort zone or more unfamiliar to me, but I could not help but wonder if this was just the thing I needed to do to try to loosen up. I am a scared, uptight drawer of things. I need to be able to make marks on a bloody piece of paper without making a song and a dance about it. To draw, to play, to experiment is alien to me, to just let go and muck about is difficult. So I signed up and had my first session this morning.
The college is unrecognisable since the last time I walked passed it on the way to work at the University in another life. The art school though was easy to find and the easel filled room was quickly populated by a small group of friendly people and the lovely tutor. The model was running late but a student who had some experience life modelling very kindly stepped in until the model arrived.
Initially I did feel like a fish out of water, that I didn’t really know what I was doing. I tried to just focus on a particular area and make shapes. As always my drawing was rubbish, stolid, scared, lifeless and pointless. I had never even held a piece of charcoal before, but I was determined to make the most of the experience and opportunity. (And I hope you appreciate I am taking one for the team in sharing these!!!)
The tutor, of course, was very encouraging and started to ply me with other things to draw with, bunches of wire, twigs, pencils tied to sticks, and string. I loved the twigs and ink. I was putting marks on paper and making shapes, I couldn’t do anything ‘wrong’ because it was always going to be random. There was nothing to worry about or try to control.
Towards the end of the two hours, I decided to try with the charcoal once again, and just drew, just made marks. I do feel that there is a clear before and after. What I wanted to achieve I did, to just loosen up and just do it.
Everyone showed their work at the end and it was marvellous to see how folk had interpreted the same figure differently (see for example Paula Perrins’ images on twitter). I certainly don’t think I am ever going to be interested in doing things too realistically, but I am really looking forward to doing more. The tutor called me a ringer, which I take as a compliment. This week I will be out foraging to find other things to make marks with and I will be treating myself to a set of charcoals. Next session I will start the class with more confidence rather than mocking myself quite so much. All quite an achievement in such a short space of time! Did I mention that the tutor, the model, the materials, the skills, were free?
What Bradford College are doing, opening up their doors at a weekend is a marvellous thing, and such an amazing opportunity. Do please see if one of their art clubs are for you.