Students’ work from our Abstract Painting Workshop

Marco ran an Abstract Painting Course over the long weekend.

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!

Below are the initial abstract concepts:

And here are the final works:

If you would like to join our next Abstract Painting Workshop, visit our course page and join our waiting list!

Have you asked Google “how to draw”?

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.

Jesse Dayan, Two Empty Chairs and a Top Hat Signifying a Brief Absence, Charcoal on Paper, 2012

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:

Drawing Bootcamp with Marco Corsini – Nov 4  

An intense crash-course introducing you to the fundamentals of drawing

Drawing in Nature – en plein air with Marco Corsini – 5 week course from Nov 12

A unique opportunity to draw alongside, and receive tuition from artist Marco Corsini in his natural element – the outdoors

General Drawing – Cylinders, Flowers, Folds and Fish with Marco Corsini – 6-week course from Nov 11

Be introduced to various classical strategies and techniques for drawing from Still Life

Introduction to Drawing – The Four Elements of Sketching with Hilmi Baskurt – 5-week course from Nov 21 

Explore the four basic elements of sketching and drawing, including understanding the subject’s structure, proportions, and the placement of its compositional elements.

And here is the rest of the list of “how to” questions we have been asking Google. How many have you asked?

  1. How to tie a tie
  2. How to kiss
  3. How to get pregnant
  4. How to lose weight
  5. How to draw
  6. How to make money
  7. How to make pancakes
  8. How to write a cover letter
  9. How to make French toast
  10. How to lose belly fat

Written by Lauren Ottaway

The artist as receiver

Written by Marco Corsini

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).

Juan Ford, The Luminary, 2015, oil on linen, 51 x 41 cm

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.

Sean Scully, Raval Rojo, 2004, oil on linen, 92 cm. x 102 cm.

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.

Grand Via by Antonio López García, 1974-1981, oil painting, 88.9 cm. x 91.44 cm
Marco Corsini, Where I stand, 2010, oil on canvas, 100 cm. x 100 cm. Private collection

 

Work from our Life Drawing Class

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.

Click on the images below to enlarge them.

Introducing Michelle Zuccolo – our new teacher

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 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 Zuccolo, Whispering, pencil on paper

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.

She will be taking our Introductory Watercolour Course beginning on July 21, and her Teens’ Studio Art Couse in August.

Huge progress made in our second beginners’ Portraiture Class

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.

Marcus and Monica’s work
Victoria and Hualan’s work
KC, charcoal on paper, 2017
Peter Quarry, charcoal on paper, 2017
Monica Jackson, charcoal on paper, 2017
Lauren Ottaway, charcoal on paper, 2017

 

Inside our Drawing and Mixed Media Workshop

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!

Hilmi pouring the shellac over the charcoal drawing
Hilmi pouring the shellac over the charcoal drawing
KC smoothing shellac over her drawing
KC smoothing shellac over her drawing

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!

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If you’d like to join one of our next workshops, you can view them here.

 

Still life and life model paintings from Term 4

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!

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Hilmi will be running his Painting Course for Term 1 on Saturday afternoons from February 4th. You can read more about it and enrol here: https://melbourneartclass.com/painting-with-hilmi-baskurt/

We did not receive everyone’s work – so if you do not see your paintings and would like them to be published on our blog and online gallery, please sent them to Lauren at hub@melbourneartclass.com!

Director’s end of year message

We’ve come to the end of a very exciting and sometimes challenging 2016 for Melbourne Art Class (MAC). What began as a unique art program almost nine years ago, continues to flourish. We have been coming to terms with the ever-increasing scale of MAC and there is little doubt in my mind that everything we have been through this year is laying the foundations for a new MAC era.

I’d like to thank everyone that has participated in MAC this year.

Thank you to our dedicated students who make our role as teachers extremely rewarding. For us as teachers, this environment of small intimate classes is a wonderful way to pass on skills and exchange experiences. I receive so much from my students; sometimes my classes are like a balm for the hard, long hours I work alone elsewhere. I very much appreciate meeting wonderful people who regularly attend our courses and embrace our little community with generosity.

Thanks to the Uniting Church who ignore the possibility of greater economic gain to make Enderby Hall available to artists, in so doing have supported me as an artist.

Thank you Lauren for being a being a constant support for me as I scurry between teaching and art practice. I attribute the friendly tone and sense of community we have managed to retain to your focus and warmth.

Thank you Hilmi as you continue to take art teaching to new levels. The little following of students that has sprouted up around you is justly deserved. I personally continue to gain much from our conversations and it is always encouraging to know that you are there.

Thank you Caz for bringing your generous warmth and experience to MAC’s students. We are fortunate to have your unique set of skills along with the care you have shown individuals.

Thank you to Jesse, you have been a strong foundation for myself and for MAC and it has been exciting to see the new developments in your own art practice this year. We will be watching for your upcoming show.

Thanks also to Irene who worked with us for part of the year. I very much have respect for your breadth of skill and experience.

Thank you to Althea who brings her gift for business strategy to our little school, enabling us to adapt to an ever-changing environment.

I continue to watch MAC develop and grow with a quiet sense of awe. I cannot tell you how fortunate we are to have this unique group of teachers and administrators and it has been amazing to see the way in which each individual ‘appeared’ when we most needed them.

2017 will be a formative year for MAC as we adapt, implement new courses, teachers and spaces. I look forward to continuing the journey with you.

Have a wonderful Christmas and holiday break and a happy new year!

Marco

Marco Corsini

Children and art

The assimilation of new techniques into children’s art work.

I have returned to teaching a children’s class after two years focused upon developing the adults’ classes.

I came into this new children’s class with the intention of introducing some elements of ‘atelier’ or ‘academic’ style training for the children. This is the methodology that many of the adults who have attended our classes would be familiar with, that enables us to rigorously teach technique.

Whilst I intended to introduce the same elements as in our adult’s classes, those of you that know me, will know that I am heavily influenced by Steiner and Montessori educational philosophies. These philosophies emphasise intrinsic self motivation (self motivation), creativity and the natural rhythm of child’s development. Whilst these philosophies are not completely incompatible with the style of training I wanted to introduce, it certainly gives me a lot to consider as a teacher.

We have had our first two classes for the term and the results, in fact, the way in which the first week’s instruction was absorbed then reappeared, fully integrated into the second week’s work has left me speechless. Perhaps these children are just incredibly talented, but somehow, they have taken in the new techniques and used them to produce work which incorporates those techniques into their own powerfully iconographic style. The three examples below by Taku, Chloe and Tyla display a far more individual approach than I would commonly see in adults, yet all have used the techniques of constructing a sphere and use of tone that I had shown them the week before.  They do this while still maintaining an aesthetic integrity; the work holds together as personal statement. The new techniques have been subsumed to the personal visual logic each child individually consistently maintains.

Taku, charcoal on paper, 2016
Taku, charcoal on paper, 2016
Chloe, charcoal on paper. 2016
Chloe, charcoal on paper. 2016
Tyra, charcoal on paper, 2016
Tyra, charcoal on paper, 2016

On the basis of these works, it seems that it is possible to teach technique to children without restricting their creative or personal expression. Taku, for example, maintains a powerful expressive line and an arresting visual impact over the foundation of the structural approach he had been shown. Chloe has a whimsical play with the line of the structural drawing. With the interplay of line and the rubbing of the charcoal, the groups of objects all merge into one whole, showing an interplay of relationships between objects. Tyra also uses value, or tone in a powerful way, inventing value for visual impact (the shadow wasn’t present in the arrangement she was drawing from).

I realise that while teaching what is essentially a limiting process to the children, I shouldn’t limit the children’s other visual processes and iconographies. The purpose of restricting would be to show the assimilation of the technique I am teaching more clearly. The problem being that by restricting other information children use in the image, I may be sending the message that other forms of expression aside from that being taught are are wrong. The eventual casualty of such an approach being the death of creativity, exploration and intrinsic learning.

For the age group in my class, (9 – 12 year olds), it seems I can teach technique and that the child experiences an adaption of the new technique into an existing canon of technique, creativity and visual language rather than a weeding out of those pre-existing elements. In so doing, they maintain their ability for powerful personal expression.

I’m very much looking forward to the work that is to come.

Written by: Marco Corsini

Teacher of our 8 to 14 year old’s Children’s Art Class