Michelle Zuccolo presents the class with different materials each week, including still life and examples of famous artwork and gives students the opportunity to try drawing and painting in the same style. The last few week’s classes featured capsicums and the students used charcoal and pencils, creating beautiful tonal drawings. Once exploring the structure of the capsicums, students recreated them with acrylic on canvas. We hope you enjoy them as much as we do!
The beginning of an artist’s journey can be fear-inducing, overwhelming, exciting, inspiring (among many other things)! These ten tips will hopefully help you successfully continue on your creative path, with the knowledge that the journey is just as important (if not more) as the destination.
1. You will really learn how to “see”
Drawing is the foundation of many art practises, and you will most likely find yourself learning how to draw again, and during this period, you will learn (or re-learn) how to “see”.
The moment that lightbulb switches on for a beginner artist is unforgettable. It is when you move away from the way you drew as a child. For example, a nose is not a “nose” anymore – it is made up of many smaller shapes – balls, cylinders and curved lines. You will begin to look at previously mundane objects around you and break them down into parts – analysing the different shapes within shapes; the negative space around them; the graduation of lights and darks. Learning how to draw truly opens up a new way of seeing – and it is so exciting!
2. Always be curious
Have your eyes open. Be observant; look at and be engaged in the physical world around you. It can not only inspire you, it can bring forth those moments of inspiration that wouldn’t normally strike you if you didn’t have your eyes truly open.
3. You are unique
You have a unique way of viewing the world and you have chosen to share this through art. Someone, somewhere will identify with your view and love what you do, and even pay for it. Don’t be scared if your work is different; as we all know, controversial artwork in the past has created art movements.
4. Don’t compare your work to others’
The only work you should be comparing is your new work to you old. Everyone is on a journey, and there will always be someone who is ahead of you. It’s very easy to compare your work to other artists’; however, this is not useful if it is affecting your art practice in a negative way. Learn from others, be inspired by others, and reserve the comparisons for your studio only.
5. Prioritise your creative practise
Create every single day or as often as you can. It’s the only way you will learn, and improve. Overcome your internal resistance; it is important to prioritise time to be creative in your life if you want to grow.
6. Keep learning
You don’t have to attend traditional art school to become an artist, however, taking art classes to improve your skills will help get you there faster. If you’re interested in a certain style – research it. Visit galleries and find art the inspires you – then copy it. Learn how the masters created their work; learn about the mistakes they made, and their successes. Take technical art classes, or engage with your local art scene and join an art community to be in the company of other creatives. And don’t stop learning!
7 Embrace your mistakes
The best thing about making mistakes is that you can learn from them. What you might see as a mistake at first, could be part of the journey to a great piece of art. When you believe you have made a mistake, try and push through and continue working. It is often a blockage, and it takes courage to continue working with it. Or leave the piece of work so you can sit with it for a few days – you will often come up with a solution (and you have learnt so much more than if you destroyed the work).
8. Stop thinking
During the creative process, have you ever experienced what can be described as “flow”, where the concept of time disappears and so does your internal dialogue, and it is just you and your work? It’s hard to switch off your inner critic, or your daily running dialogue, but when you do – magic happens. Sometimes it helps not to have a perceived end-goal, and just create for the sake of being creative. This can also help break the initial mental barrier preventing the physical act of creating – to stop thinking/judging/analysing and put that pencil or brush to paper. See what happens.
9. It takes time
It can be frustrating when you are just starting out and can see a masterpiece in your head, but you don’t yet have the skills to bring it to life. Be kind to yourself and remember that every artist has experienced this part of their journey. It takes a lot of work. Enjoy the journey and the improvements you notice in your work along the way.
10. Believe in yourself
Self-doubt can be your biggest enemy. Until you really believe in yourself, you will not understand the true enormity of this statement. These tips above should help you get some of the way there, however you can only truly know when you believe in yourself. We believe in you!
At Melbourne Art Class we offer a range of art classes for every step of the artist’s journey. You can view all of our current courses here.
Over seven hours, students explored colour theory, conceptual elements, tone, colour and composition in an artwork.
Students were given a number of ways to approach abstraction by looking for compositional ideas and manipulate shapes and forms. They began by creating collages using images from magazines, cut up paper, or by drawing from life using Still Life. These collages were then used to create the composition on their canvas.
This course provided a unique opportunity to explore abstraction and different compositional elements of an artwork. Take a look below at the incredible work that was produced during the workshop!
Google recently revealed the top ten “how to” searches of all time, and “how to draw” made it in at number 5.
When you ask Google “how to draw”, the search results show an overwhelming number of step-by-step websites and videos on how to draw anything from a fox to the 3D alphabet. Whilst these instructional blogs and videos seem to satisfy the searcher’s needs, we know that it is with continued drawing practice that drawing skills improve. In fact, we have noticed that some students come to our classes after reaching the limit of what they can do through online training videos.
This is one reason why we do what we do. We design classes that help everyone and all skill levels – including those who are googling “how to draw”. Our teachers are all practising artists themselves, and aim to help you with whatever you are searching to do creatively.
Why do we draw?
We begin expressing ourselves unselfconsciously through drawing before we can say our own name as it is an instinct we are born with. But by the time we finish school, most of us don’t pick up a pencil again for a very long time. As drawing does not seem to be of tangible use for everyday life, it is easy to place less importance on it, and ultimately forget about it.
We draw for self-expression; to process thoughts and feelings; for pleasure; to record moments in time; to read and interpret the world. Drawing is valuable in our lives because it is a form of visual thinking and challenges us in different ways, from hand-eye co-ordination, to how we really understand and “see” an object in front of us.
People often seek drawing classes in adulthood because few things in life can generate the same feeling that creativity can. Drawing can be calming, it can challenge us and change our brain patterns. Drawing classes are also a “mature” way to continue what we loved doing as children; we may attend classes for the familiar feeling that drawing creates within us, or because we want to become a master of the craft.
We have also noticed that many people at Melbourne Art Class, once they have retired, seek drawing classes with us, because they now have the time to pursue something they have always wanted to do. We feel privileged that we can help these people reconnect with their creativity and the lost art of drawing.
The reasons why we draw are subjective and widely varied, however, we want to emphasise that it is never too late to pick up the pencil again.
We can teach you “how to draw”
Our classes provide an environment that cannot be replicated in an online tutorial. When you are around creative people, you feel yourself become more inspired and more likely to be motivated to return week after week. Practice, ultimately, will improve your drawing. And we believe everyone can draw.
We have a few drawing classes scheduled for the remainder of 2017 and we would love to help you improve, or refresh your drawing skills:
We all experience the same material world, albeit at different times and under different circumstances. As artists, we look at the same objects, however, the infinite possibilities our minds present and the possibilities of the medium we use, open up unique paths of interpretation and representation. As observer and representer, we discover a unique version of a perceived reality.
Spanish artist, Antonio López García has mentioned advising art students that they must choose between the objective and the subjective. While some of the nuances of his statement may remain lost in translation, I think what this means for most of us is that we should be aware of the creative tension between representing the world we understand with fidelity (the objective), and the language, the signs, the symbols, techniques, and strategies we use to represent that world (the subjective).
If painting styles sit on a scale between the objective and the subjective, then Hyperrealism and Photorealism would sit at the objective end of the scale and Abstraction would be at the subjective end of the scale. A work really never has just one element alone, objective or subjective, but a mix of both, in different proportions.
For example, Hyperrealism and Photorealism are often images interpreted from a photographic image as the reference used by the artist, which has been used to assist in achieving extreme realist effects. However, although appearing objective, this technical process can introduce its own inherent element of subjectivity. Not only in the choices made (like subject and lighting), but subtly, in its technical means. Standing in front of a work by Juan Ford’s for example, soft, lens effects are evident, translated faithfully and most likely, consciously into the final painted image.
At the other extreme could be a work like that of Sean Scully whose abstraction looks subjective, but has various objective real-world origins. I’ve seen it quoted that Scully’s abstract paintings are inspired by the shapes and the patterns of New York City’s walls, facades, and hoardings. I’ve also read that they originate in Scully’s experience of a checkered Irish society. Either way, there is an objective element to a subjective interpretation.
As artists, we are able to perceive and receive that which we observe. It is the observing that drives us to respond in the creative act, but also our attempt to respond in the same creative act, which drives us back to observe. We inhabit a cycle of receiving from that which we observe and responding, all because we make.
As artists, a creative tension exists between the objective which we observe and perceive as external to us, the objective which we receive, and the subjective elements of our response. It’s tempting to say that an artwork is an entirely subjective product, but if art were entirely subjective, we would not consistently be able to see universal elements in art which we understand and discuss corporately. These elements are a transferral of the objective, the perceived, received by the artist and communicated effectively enough to be referenced by others as an objective real world element. Elements such as Scully’s clashing yet simultaneous association of forms which give us a visual sense of what we may later be told are relationships within a society or urban habitation. We may not know what Scully’s inspiration or intention was but we get a sense of the relationships described through the visual. Or that we get a sense of isolation and irony when viewing the ridiculously bound yet robustly physical masculine figure by Ford, which seems to also represent something of the current male experience. There are real world elements in these artworks which render them in part, reflections of an objective world.
The three painters I have mentioned have all received in some way. Ford, his Australian male locality and subjectivity, his conceptual formation. Scully received from the pattern and form of his society, both in the cityscape and sociologically, also from the development of painting into modernism and abstraction. López García, received from being trained by his uncle when he was a boy and from his encounter with his immediate environment and life. These artists, having received, have also chosen to respond through their art practice, or we could say have chosen to give, because they have not just responded, they have passed something on, as if they themselves have become a conduit of the world. Each artist a unique conduit derived from the tension between objective and subjective.
Vincent van Gogh came to realise that he could receive and give through his immediate surroundings of light, colour and persons in southern France. He opened up to this provision that for him eclipsed, at least for a moment, negative experiences such as mental health struggles and poverty. I am not advocating a cure-all in art, but the fruit of such receiving and subsequent giving was visible in the lines of people that inhabited the National Gallery of Victoria for months during the recent exhibition, Van Gogh and the Seasons.
I adore the reclusive, awkward man, Paul Cézanne. Although just like Van Gogh, he was committed to working from life around him, Cézanne didn’t necessarily represent the world perfectly. To my mind, his paintings were sometimes awkward and flawed, but from the awkwardness and from his unique way of seeing the world, a position developed which translated into great visual poetry in his later work. Cézanne tells me that while my mastery of my craft as a painter may seem slow at times, if I am open to being a student of the painting tradition and if I open myself to receiving from that which is around me, I will eventually respond from my own beautiful position in the world. In giving in this way, I add something to the world.
There are many drop-in life drawing classes around Melbourne, which are fantastic for artists who have experience in drawing from the figure. Here at Melbourne Art Class, we run a unique, six-week Introduction to Life Drawing Course, tutored by a number of our talented artists / teachers. We have designed this course for students who would like to learn the fundamentals of life drawing and receive one-on-one tuition in a supportive environment. During this course, students learn different techniques for drawing the figure, and many of our students complete the course multiple times to hone in on different skills with our teachers’ guidance.
Our current Life Drawing Course is presented by Hilmi Baskurt, and the students have achieved incredible results in such a short time! You can see some of their brilliant work below.
Our next Life Drawing Course will be presented by artist Jesse Dayan, and this will sadly be his final short course at MAC. It has been an absolute honour having Jesse teach our Life Drawing short courses, and we are very fortunate that he will still be able to run Life Drawing workshops here at Melbourne Art Class in the future.
You can find out more about our tutored Life Drawing Courses and enrol here.
We are excited to introduce to you a new artist, and teacher who is joining our group of master teachers here at MAC – Michelle Zuccolo!
Michelle will initially be teaching our new Introductory Watercolour Course and our Studio Art Course for Teenagers – two art classes which are in high demand.
Michelle Zuccolo (MA (Visual Arts), BA (Fine Art), DipEd, IB cert., not only brings her extensive training to MAC, she is also an extremely accomplished, practicing artist who has maintained an ongoing exploration into the human form and its depiction in art.
Her work is underpinned by an interest in the human psyche, expressed in related portraiture paintings, life drawing and sculpture. She has been a finalist in many awards, including:
Portia Geach Memorial Award, E. H. Erwin Gallery, Sydney in 2011, 2013 and 2014, represented each time with a self-portrait.
In 2015 and 2016 she was a semi-finalist in The Doug Moran National Portrait Prize.
Five times in the Adelaide Perry Prize for Drawing.
Two times finalist in the Spring Festival of Drawing, Mornington Peninsula Regional Gallery.
Two times finalist in the ARC Yinnar Drawing prize.
Finalist in the Castlemaine State Festival Dominique Segan Drawing Prize.
She has also been represented in the Australian 7th Drawing Biennale held at Drill Hall.
Michelle was also a recipient of the ISS Italian Services Institute International Fellowship in 2013. There, she was fortunate enough to been able to conduct research in Italy and Austria, studying classical and medieval art forms. Inspired and enriched by this experience, her artwork continues to reference and celebrate the human form and architecture, with symbolic and religious undertones.
Michelle has taught Visual Art for over twenty-five years at various levels of education including Secondary and we are very fortunate to have her join us at MAC.
We have only had two sessions of our beginner’s Portraiture Course with Marco. After our second session, during which everyone worked so hard (you could hear a pin drop!), the work produced was a huge step up from the first class (Marco must be doing something right)! Take a look at the impressive work from last weeks’ class below.
Hilmi ran our first workshop for the year – a Drawing Workshop using Ink and Shellac. It was a marathon workshop, where students created a still life, beginning with charcoal, then two layers of shellac and finished with black ink and white paint!
Hilmi began the workshop teaching students some of the fundamentals of drawing. Students were to choose a number of items of still life that Hilmi had meticulously arranged, with black sheets behind them, which Hilmi explained was important because it creates the shapes of the still life. You see the shape of something by looking at what is behind it, and a dark surface makes this easier.
After students finished the drawing in pencil, they then used charcoal to enhance the dark and light tones within the image.
Once students felt they had a finished sketch, Hilmi put down a big plastic sheet, and made sure everyone wore gloves for, what students felt, was a daunting, yet fascinating process. They laid their works on the plastic sheet and poured shellac all over the page, moving around and smoothing out the shellac with small spatulas. Students were hesitant to pour the runny mixture on the thin paper, however the shellac sealed the charcoal drawing beneath and eventually created a hard surface; changing the images instantly! Students added two layers and then left them to dry for half an hour. If you are familiar with Hilmi’s mixed media works using shellac, he normally uses at least eight layers of shellac!
Once the images were dry, the next step was to add ink in the darkest areas, and diluted ink for the mid-tones. Painting over the shellac was unlike anything they had experienced; the new texture of the paper was unpredictable; there were bubbles, rough and smooth areas, which made it very interesting, yet challenging to apply the ink! The final part of the workshop saw students adding white to the lightest areas, which was what Hilmi called creating ‘magic’. It really did lift the still life images off the page!
If you’d like to join one of our next workshops, you can view them here.
We had our talented regulars, plus a few new faces in our Painting Course this Term, and it was a fantastic class. Hilmi’s teaching is based on traditional oil painting techniques, using elements of Flemish painting with a contemporary adaptation.
This term they painted from still life for four sessions, and from a life model for five. Take a look at their brilliant work below!