A work in progress, "Csikos", graphite
They say you don’t really learn something until you have to teach it. Maybe that’s the case with some things, but I just seem to have a learning block with regard to perspective! I was asked to teach a basic drawing class for the City of Lakewood Adult Continuing Education Classes, and of course, this would include a lesson on perspective. Yes, I managed to convey a basic understanding of one-point perspective, scale and proportion. I even made up plastic picture planes with cross-hairs to help understand foreshortening: representing a three dimensional object on a two dimensional plane, just like the Albrecht Durer contraption shown at the recent Van Gogh exhibit at the Denver Art Museum. But I still don’t quite get the whole perspective thing myself. I blame it on my dad, a mechanical engineer, and perfectionist, I might add. He is the critical father figure, who points out my mistakes to be corrected before (if I’m lucky) stating any positive aspects of a work of mine. And of course, perspective should be painstakingly exact to please an engineer. Am I still acting like a rebellious teenager by refusing to learn how to render a mechanically correct, architecturally sound illustration? Maybe so.
Drawing: The Art of Seeing consisted of eight, two-hour sessions on Monday nights. Make the classes fun, but educational, and be sure the students complete a project they can take home, the director specified. So I spent many hours pouring over drawing books (thanks Gene Smith – many were yours and I’m happy to share the knowledge found in those pages), flipping through art magazines for fun exercises and illustrative examples of principles of design. Not having a formal art education and being primarily self-taught made this research especially rewarding for me. I devised each class to consist of a fun warm-up exercise (one-minute drawings anyone?) then demonstrate a concept – tone, texture, mark-making, composition etc, show examples of such, then have the students work on a project incorporating that principle. And you know what – you really do learn something well when you have to teach it. Just don’t ask me about perspective!