Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Small containers

Well, I started teaching a new class, new school, tonight. The first class was great and shows promise to be a great opportunity for all of us to learn and grow. If my class enrollment stays up, I’ll get to complete out the semester with this new gang. What I was looking forward was the chance to just draw. The other class is a lot of reading and lecturing, with slides, no less. “How would you define industrial design?” “What do are your career and life goals?” “What do you really value and how important is this to work into your career?” “What are you reactions to this article?” “Will you get me that updated resume draft already?”

This teaching thing requires so much energy and preparation, and is it any surprise that after talking/lecturing for 3-1/2 hours a couple times a week, all I want to do on weekends is hibernate and not have to be so “on”? Whew.

Anyway, for the new class, we’re focusing on using drawing to communicate ideas, developing and strengthening each student’s individual style and addressing their interests. I have them doing weekly sketches to improve their observation skills – look at a product and really draw it: The overall form, proportion, all the individual component details, assembly, materials. The example was a chair, and earlier today, I had started to do a demo that I was going to copy to use as a handout. As it turned out, I couldn’t get it done in time before class. It’s very humbling to be reminded that looking at things very carefully and drawing them takes time and patience. My chair drawings needed a little more time and work. I’m going to take the lead and do more of these sketches, to remind myself to be more precise in my drawing and less fuzzy (sigh), to get back into the practice of observing and drawing more, and to feel less rusty.

And I have to get back up to speed on working with markers again. With chalk. This is serious stuff here. OMG. But, you know, I get paid to draw, to draw better, and to teach people to brainstorm, be creative and draw better. Seriously, how cool is that?

The far less worrisome / way more fun part is the on-the-fly sketching during class. I take my notebook around and see how everyone’s doing, brainstorm with them and draw for a little bit. A niblet here, a niblet there. I want them to just play and become more confident; the idea is always to practice more and more, and have the ideas go directly from their minds and hearts through their hands onto the paper. That’s the really fun part. It was already late, but I had a nice time going through the scribbles from this evening’s class when I got home, and felt compelled to work up a couple of the really quick sketches. So, with the new class, I expect that there will be more and more niblets and drawings to share with you guys out there. I’m hoping my enrollment numbers stay up, and that we’ll be able to keep the class open. Keep your fingers crossed for me.

Artsy note:
I’d heard that one of the brands of pencils that we all normally use … has been difficult lately. Another instructor commented that the leads lately had gotten very brittle and the points crumble easily. He mentioned that he was having his class use Faber-Castell polychromos colored pencils instead. I have so many colored-pencils dating back over ten years, it’s hard to say if I’d have any to notice any difference. But, I figured I’d try the F-C’s and see. Right off the bat, the leads are a little more firm than the Prismacolors (which means that the pencils may hold a point longer and you don’t have to sharpen ‘em so often. This really is a real serious plus - means you don’t have to keep boxes of ‘em sharpened all at once so you can just keep sketching for long stretches of time without having to stop to sharpen pencils to get nice, crisp points…), but you can still get really nice, dark linework. So far, a nice option. You mean I could maybe get by with just buying a couple instead of buying boxes of ‘em? Woo. Will report more.


Plain Jane said...

Interesting to hear about the classes you're teaching, Wendee. Hard work prepping and then being on, and you're working full time too, right? Wish I could join the sketching based class! I bet you're a great teacher!

Karen said...

That's a good tip about the pencils. When my prismas run out I'll keep that in mind. Mine are old, probably from the days before the leads started breaking.

Wendee said...

Thanks Jane. A 'great teacher'? I'm tryin', I'm trying' ..

Wendee said...

Karen - When my class is filled with the noise of pencil sharpeners going, all night long, perhaps that's a bit of proof. I'm going to keep track of which brands the different students are using and try to keep track of how often their sharpeners go off.