When I was in my late 20’s I started doing a lot of art, most weird abstract stuff. Over time, I stopped as I became more involved with yoga, I just didn’t really feel the need to do art anymore as yoga became an outlet for my creative urges.
Some 20 years on I’ve suddenly wanted to do art again. However taking some of the lessons learned in the interim. For one, at that time of youthful angst, most of my art was pretty dark, and thankfully I don’t feel the need to tap that spirt again. Also technically, I had some skills, but doing something like drawing a recognisable face was impossible for me, even as a caricature.
So a month ago, I decided if I want to draw, I want to learn how to draw from the ground up. I don’t see learning the skill of drawing as different than learning any of the multitude of skills I’ve learned over the last 20 years.
With that in mind, I started researching how to draw, and found books, online courses and so on. But most of them started from drawing objects or figures. I wanted to drill all the way to the bottom as a start. Thankfully after much searching, I came across the Vitruvian Fine Arts Studio, an art studio in Chicago, that also offers online classes taught by mater teacher David Jamieson.
David Jamieson at work
Their Drawing Basics course was exactly wahat I was looking for. A true bottom up approach to learning basic drawing skill. And by basic I mean BASIC. The course starts with just working on drawing lines, lots and lots of lines.
From there you learn to simply assess angles and draw more lines, on those angles. Pretty basic, right? And also pretty fundamental and critical if want to draw actual things, since drawings can be broken down to a combination of these two things.
It took 2-3 weeks to work through this part of the course at around 1-2 hours a day.
From there, you start to slowly add to the two most basic skills, first by drawing triangles of various sizes and shapes and then to oddly shaped polygons.
Working on the polygons exercise.
Here is where it gets interesting, because errors in judging angles, or slightly curved lines will punish you, hard. I didn’t have too much trouble with the exercises to this point, but this section, and I’m still working on this section, really slowed me down. Slowed me down in a good way, now it really matters if you get those angles just right or not, you really have to start to use your eye and see in a way I’ve never been able to before.
My first efforts were pretty far off target, see the drill isn’t to draw any old random polygon, no the drill is to as precisely as possible recreate the dozen or so examples provided in the exercise’s accompanying pdf file.
With these shapes one wrong angle or line length will distort the entire sketch and make it look like a 3rd graders replication. Putting it together really took some time, I think I spent an entire Saturday afternoon on one of the first polygons. But it gets better and you can see your eye start to slowly develop, which of course is the whole reason for starting this course, so it’s really time well spent for anyone wanting to learn to draw life like sketches or drawings.
I haven’t got there yet, but the next steps are to draw curved shapes and then learn to work on shading via a large number of value and progression drills.
The final sections deal with drawing actual, physical objects, namely, classic geometric objects, cubes, cylinders, and spheres.
The course culminates with taking the single objects you drawn and making a still life from them.
A few final comments on the course, each exercise is fully video documented, so you can watch David actually do each and every exercise himself, with his commentary. These videos range from 30 minutes to over an hour. Some sections are sped to double speed, which actually helps as well.
Also David can be PM’d or you can leave comments for him under each exercise.
I do wish there were more features for interacting with other students, perhaps a forum for example, but overall this course is well worth the money spent, assuming you are willing to put the time in. This isn’t the kind of course you can just watch the videos and skip to the end and expect results. I can see it easily taking 3 months and I’m anticipating up to 6 months at the rate I work.
From there, Vitruvian currently has two other online course offerings, a cast model drowning course and a portrait drawing course. If you take a look at David’s and his students work, you’ll see why this seems like such a good investment and the three courses together provide a path to learning to draw realistically and beautifully.
I had to replace my modem this week, which should have been a fairly straightforward plug and play swap out.
It almost was too, unfortunately my modem’s power supply shares the same power strip as my iMac. ‘So what?’, ‘Why would that matter?, you ask. Because even though Apple makes great hardware (at least up to 2015) they suck at making cords and adapters.
The following is an interview with Andre Moraru one of leading handbalancers in the world, and myself, conducted via email.
Q: Can you tell us a little about your history with handbalancing?
A: it’s hard to give precise answer in a short amount of time but I will give a short summary of how I got started. It begun as gravitating towards doing things that made me feel good. I didn’t have plans or ambitions to become a performer, I just liked the process of being physically active. It ranged from stick and sword fighting to diving and swimming, to hiking. Then it changed to attempting acrobatics on the grass, stretching in my backyard, trying to walk on my hands (which at first I considered to be a lot harder and more hardcore than actually standing still). I grew up in a small town with lots of natural environment around me. Me and my friends created a lot of cool stuff with simple tools we had at our disposal. So it all began as playing around really. Whatever you do out of joy and not out of having to do it, will most likely stick with you because you crate an environment where you are, now, the most immediate sector of your attention. You don’t try being someone else, you create your own world and become a master within it. Who knows where it will take you, all you know is that you have something interesting to do and it’s very exciting to try and dig deeper. We often forget what it feels like to do something for the first time ever. We assume that we know everything and there is nothing cool and new left to do but the truth is there is. Let joy lead your way.
Below is a reprint, in its entirety, of an interview between Arthur Costi and balance artist Mikael Krstiansen.
Arthur is a highly skilled yoga artist in his own right, practicing and teaching the DeRose method of yoga. He initiated this interview to help with some of the advanced skills he’s working to perfect.
For some this may all be up in the stratosphere, but hopefully all will find it insightful, inspirational, and lead us to push our own performance limits.
Following the interview you will find a couple of nice videos.