By Dylan Planeta
The Smithsonian Associates Studio Arts program began its 8-session weekend Beginning Drawing course on January 27th. This course is designed to introduce drawing concepts to those who have little to no art experience in a friendly environment provided by the instructor, Jamie Combs. After sitting in this course for two sessions with no artistic experience, I can say with confidence that I have been able to produce more art than just stick figures, this goes for the rest of the class as well. We all came into this class with either beginner level or no prior experience and, with the help of the instructor and her patience she has been able to keep an environment productive to learning the essential skills to draw with confidence. Combs began the class with a drawing technique known as “blind contour”. This exercise was to get the students accustomed to drawing the outlines of their object without looking at the paper as a way to have the hands and eyes work in one, solid movement. Combs walks around commenting on each student’s progress, giving helpful advice as they are drawing so they can improve throughout the exercise. She also encourages students to practice on their own time in their sketchbooks to further develop skills, especially drawing things of the individual student’s interest.
Students putting the days lesson into practice
The classroom in an open-question environment as Combs wants everyone fully grasping concepts so “it doesn’t matter if I have said it five or six times, chances are someone else is wondering the same thing you are and I do not mind repeating myself” offering plenty of reassurance that this environment is meant to promote the artistic experience.
Combs helping a student measure angles using a sighting stick
Within the second session, students began learning about volume, shading, and tone to add the “illusion” of 3-D drawing. Utilizing the contour lesson along with this new information, we were able to produce 3-D images of the objects of our choosing. We also became aware of how the of pressure of the pencil affects the volume in our drawings. We learned the importance of shadow and light have on making an object project the illusion of 3-D and the different levels of volume needed to capture the essence of the shadow. Again, Combs went around the room offering praise and pointers to make sure that we were understanding how to capture the illusion.
After each class, I notice my fellow students thanking Combs for the wonderful lesson commending her or how helpful she was in their pursuit of learning how to draw not only correctly, but to enjoy the experience as well.