Today was the first day of a class in “Faces in Watercolor.” Again the focus is on the shadows, the darks, and not, at first, the light. (This was in contrast to a session earlier this year which focused on “Drawing the Light.”) It is about finding those shades of difference. Much easier said than done, this process is a powerful demonstration of how much we really do not see.
The class is so full that people and easels are crammed together. Frankly, in this congestion, it’s amazing we can see anything, but it works somehow. Everyone is extremely motivated (as ever, in courses with no “credit”)–and talent shines out in all corners of the room, even though we are focused on shadows.
Demand is quite high apparently, in these digital times, for something that art, and maybe only art, can provide. In addition, the teacher has an excellent reputation, which probably is the main reason the class is so full!
Illustration: Pencil and watercolor by Black Elephant Blog author
Of what possible use is this? It probably doesn’t matter. Is art ever really “useful” in a modern sense of valuing what we can measure? What is useful is a can opener when you need it. Art is valuable for expanding our ability to think by first perceiving more sensitively. It is hard to quantify the value of this, but it probably would make a difference on a larger stage.
But here with an individual sitting in front of us on a small platform, it is surprisingly hard to get it right–even with all the eyes in the room. The tests of thinking and seeing are formidable. Again, we were told: keep your eyes on the model, not the paper! Do not let your hand leave the paper. There is something about seeing and then drawing that requires keeping too much thinking out of it. And, there were as many vastly different images of the model as there were people in the class. No two drawings were alike! Looking forward to the next session!