Thursday, August 8, 2013

Drawing Classes in Amsterdam, for the Patient Painter

My academic drawing classes in Amsterdam for beginners and intermediate artists who wish to learn the way the old masters learned the craft.

When joining a drawing class in the academic style you may discover that some of your ideas about how to draw, and whether you were born to do it or not are not exactly correct.  In a sense everybody was born to draw, and nobody was born to draw.

The most brilliant draftsmen (drawing artists) from the past, some of which indeed lived in Amsterdam, reached the level they did, not through flairs of genius which was obvious from an early age.  It's almost guaranteed that their first doodles were as poor as those of everyone else who wanted to learn drawing.  The difference is that they didn't reach any wrong conclusions from this, other than the obvious one:  they had never done it before, and therefore, a bad result was inevitable.

Turn the clock forward 3 or 4 centuries and the image of the artist shifted from that of a craftsman to that of a creative bohemian.  I find this to be a terrible idea, especially for people considering to take drawing classes.  They may give things a try, and when their drawings are not brilliant and effortless, the conclusion is: "Oh well, I guess I'm just not the artistic type".

The title I used in this entry, the 'patient painter' stands for someone who above all is willing to put in the time and the effort, and go the distance.  The only failed drawing is the one that you consider finished before it reaches a standard that you consider excellent, whether produced by yourself or somebody else.

Many of the discussions in my drawing classes in Amsterdam, will revolve around the idea of measuring thoroughly, slowing down, using your lines and tools carefully in the beginning, almost as if you were planning a crime.  Did I mention slowing down?

Take for example the portrait of a religious man which I made in a visit to my home country of Guatemala this past march:

I frankly don't recall how many hours it took to create, but I do know it did not happen in one afternoon.  It took days of careful observation, of letting the work 'rest' and coming back the next morning with a fresh pair of eyes and also trying different compositional decisions of lines, values, edges and atmosphere, all of which you will learn in my Amsterdam drawing lessons, and which are difficult to crack in a couple of sessions, unless you are an accomplished master with decades of drawing under your belt.

This is one of the reasons that during my drawing classes in Amsterdam I strongly encourage people to carefully choose what they want to draw.  It has to be something that keeps you motivated to give your best and stick to it as long as humanly possible.  Until it is perfect and not a moment less.

What you will find during the drawing lessons, is that the secret behind amazing works of draftsmanship has little to do with old secrets or artistic genius.  It's just plain old hard work, and some techniques that should be always kept in mind.

So I guess the bad news is that it's not easy, but the good news is that anyone can do it!

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