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!
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:
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 have been asked for a long time now, when will we be holding art classes during the day?!
Well, we are excited to announce we will be running two new Drawing and Painting (Studio Art) classes during Tuesday and Friday mornings from 2017! Finally, we hear you say!
Artist Marco Corsini will be presenting these daytime art classes and they will run the same way as our popular evening Studio Art Class (don’t worry, he will still be taking our Tuesday night class)!
Marco’s Studio Art Classes are our longest-running and are the foundation of Melbourne Art Class. We welcome people from all creative backgrounds, skill levels – anyone who needs a space to be creative, become inspired, acquire specific skills, continue an artistic project – the list goes on. The unique element about this class is that we limit enrolments to only ten students, so Marco is able to provide critical feedback, drawing and painting tuition or just help you get your idea out of your head and onto the canvas.
To get to know Marco’s classes a little better, you can read about his Tuesday evening class here.
Our classes are held at Enderby Studio, 314 Church Street, Richmond.
Daytime Art Course Dates
Term 1 Tuesday mornings: Feb 7th, 14th, 21st, 28th, Mar 7th, 14th, 21st, 28th (8 sessions)
Over the ANZAC Day weekend we ran a small Drawing Intensive Workshop. Small because we had a smaller number of enrolments – however the result was an intimate workshop where Hilmi was able to focus on each student’s process, skill level and individual learning desires.
Incredible work was produced by each student, and we are proud to show it off! As you can see below, we had a range of skill levels, which is why we keep our classes small, so every teacher can provided one-on-one training. You can see the progress of each student over the three-day weekend:
Ivana has been attending our classes since late last year and has been challenging herself with drawing classes. As you can see, it pays to put in the effort!
This was Jonathan’s first class at MAC and his progress over the three days was impressive.
This was also Erin’s first class at MAC, and she has since enrolled in our six-week Drawing Course with Hilmi. She produced some incredible work. We also received some heart-warming feedback from here too, “I enjoyed the workshop immensely. Hilmi created an environment where we were all able to work at our own pace and develop as individual artists. We moved quickly through the curriculum but Hilmi’s precise articulation made it doable.
In the past I have done intensive workshops and they have left me exhausted and somewhat despiteful. This weekend, time flew and I looked forward to the next exercise.
It didn’t take me long to book my next class package, for all the reasons listed above. I must also mention that the cost of the classes makes it very accessible. I did a lot of research before booking the intensive workshop and found Melbourne Art Class to be the cheapest – by far. But it wasn’t cheap value.”
These workshops are a good way to supplement ongoing study, and we had Katelyn, who is a VCE Studio Art student. She wanted to enhance her drawing skills and gain a greater understanding of tone and structure and produced some brilliant work!
If you would like to attend an upcoming Drawing Class here at MAC, check out our classes, or join a waiting list! We’ll be opening enrolments for our next round of classes soon. We also want to thank everyone for their hard work and for letting us share their works!
Drawing and Painting Student, and Guest Blogger Ivana, inspires us with her newly-found dedication to agreeing to pay attention to the act of seeing.
A little while ago a post floated across my facebook feed, one of those pithy inspirational quotes – you know the sort; the sort that is ever so wise and makes you feel good and whole while otherwise scrolling cat vids*.
From William James, the American Philosopher and Psychologist it said simply:
“My experience is what I agree to attend to.”
It got me thinking around a bunch of stuff. Now, some of that stuff is pretty personal and I’ll hold it close but in respect to the act of drawing there is an insight bound in the idea of agreement and attention I thought might be relevant and of interest. Here goes…
Left to my own devices, I’m a sloppy drawer. Hard handed and while not lacking confidence in attacking the page I’m a little too focussed on immediate gratification. I just want to get that damn image down! Quickly. I’ve got 20:20 vision and know one end of a pencil from the other but you might not always be able to tell when looking my work.
Here’s an example, sketched quickly at home:
So I take drawing classes and I do this for two reasons:
1) To develop technique, and;
2) To tame my giddy inner self and focus on seeing.
It is true that with each drawing and each class my technique improves; manipulation of material and touch becomes easier, tips are gained and tricks learned but… If that’s all a drawing class was, I’d still be a sloppy drawer –with admittedly significantly better tools at my disposal.
So this is where the second point comes in. Obtuse perhaps, but insanely important it’s about the act of seeing – agreeing to pay attention to the act seeing; to force myself to do this in a structured and warm but firm environment. To learn to look at. To learn to look around. To learn to look through. To learn to truly look. To agree to do this so that I might actually see. Through this, my naturally excited hand becomes light and free; truly trained and tamed and my work while still distinctly mine becomes all the better for it. At least, that’s my goal. Some recent Melbourne Art Class drawing class works:
Now, I’ve done a number of MAC drawing classes with Hilmi Baskurt and am intensely driven to continue however other than the obvious improvement in technique (which in itself is delightful and not in question) I was feeling a little at a loss as to why I was so compelled. After all, I lead a busy life like everybody else and classes come at the cost of doing something else. Then, I saw that little quote and my gut instinct got a voice. I want to learn to see.
Artist Hilmi Baskurt’s Drawing Courses explore the four elements of sketching – the structural sketch or basic line drawing; value sketching (light and dark); chiaroscuro (black and white) and contour sketching, or continuous line drawing. Being aware of these four elements helps students with their observational skills and will lead to a more finished drawing.
These courses attract a wide range of people – from complete beginners to artists who would like to return to the fundamentals. Because our classes are small (no more than ten students), this allows Hilmi to help everyone individually, no matter what skill level. It also allows a student some freedom in their choice of work.
The first term of classes saw some fantastic drawings being produced, especially since a number of our students had never drawn before. We love doing what we do when we see a new artist complete a drawing they never thought possible – or see an object of Still Life in a way they had never considered!
Here are some of the works produced in our recent six-week course with Hilmi:
We also ran a Drawing Intensive Worksop over the Labour Day weekend that crammed the four elements into a boot-camp style course, as well as one day focusing on Life Drawing. These workshops are extremely popular; a lot of our students complete this workshop and then move onto our six-week drawing and Life Drawing courses. In both of these courses, students can complete folio-ready drawings, depending on their skill level.
Here are some images from our students undertook the Labour Day Workshop:
Come and sketch with us over the ANZAC Day weekend!
Still Life – a collection of inanimate objects – does not inspire everyone, and after drawing the same curved vase ten times, beginners often want to move on to “more exciting things” like the human figure, portraiture, landscapes, abstract work etc. However, Still Life is an important genre for every artist; through it you explore line, composition, value or tone, space and nearly every type of texture, just to begin with. It can be the foundation of your art practice, or a complete and fascinating subject in itself, plus many of technical problems in painting can be resolved with Still Life practice.
If you study the Masters – both modern and classic, many works are Still Life paintings. In other works, Still Life plays what you think may be a minor roll, but as you begin to study them, you begin to realise how important it is to the painting as a whole. Artists such as Giorgio Morandi dedicated himself to working with Still Life throughout his own life with the enigmatic results still delighting viewers today. Picasso famously commented on the anxiety in Cezanne’s apples being what held his interest in the work.
“It’s not what the artist does that counts, but what he is. Cezanne would never have interested me a bit if he had lived and thought like Jacques-Emile Blanche, even if the apple he painted had been ten times as beautiful. What forces our attention is Cezanne’s anxiety – that’s Cezanne’s lesson.”
Clearly, Still Life can be a extremely powerful genre in the right hands.
Why should you draw and paint Still Life?
Did you begin drawing cylinders and cylinders and more cylinders until they began to resemble cups and vases and wine bottles? Think about all the lines in a Still Life – the fragile petals of a flower; the curve of a lamp in front of a hard-edged wooden box. The smooth skin of a dotted pumpkin, with deep grooves all meeting at one point; the tiny crosshatches on a folded piece of hessian on which a delicate teacup sits. This is where you learn how to draw a wealth of lines and render different surfaces and textures. It takes discipline but these skills can then be transferred to Life Drawing and portraiture, or whatever you would like to explore.
Lights and darks
A Still Life composition is where you can truly learn how to render lights and darks; value, also called tone. It is challenging but a place where every beginner should start and every seasoned artist should return. You can explore tonal range in Still Life – from the crisp white folds in a cloth to the deep, dark shadows cast upon it by a vase – and all the values in between. This is where you really learn how to “see”. A tip from our teachers is to squint at the subject in front of you – this can help you see the difference between the lights and darks more clearly. When painting Still Life, you quickly learn about colour mixing and how to mix a black (which you find out in our painting classes), and how to handle paint.
In art classes the Still Life is often arranged for you, although you may have the opportunity to choose which part of the composition you want to draw. Drawing and painting Still Life will help you identify how a composition can be modified for a particular effect. You can experiment with different compositions, create focal points and guide the viewer’s eye through compositions.
We are very fortunate to have Adrian Stojkovich joining us at MAC and presenting our new drawing course.
Adrian is as endearing in real life as his work. He carries a youthful energy, seemingly swaggering on the edge of the precipice of creative potentiality he is about to dive into. His work, traced with cool, skilled abandon is undergird by a sound humanity and is about to fall into something wonderful.
Based in Melbourne, Adrian completed his Bachelor of Fine Art with Honours in 2009, and his Masters of Fine Art in 2013 at the Victorian College of the Arts. His recent show at Paradise Hills in Richmond was made up of room of large abstract works and a room of dead fish paintings. He can handle either style well, demonstrating that he is an artist and painter who has taken the time to explore his craft at a high technical level. The work is infused with subtle passion but maintains the clarity to steer his little project whichever way he chooses.
Adrian’s abstract work comprises hovering planes of coloured marks on a consistent pale, or dark, or umber background. The marks vary in size and slightly in tone, diffusing beneath layers of thin paint, therefore creating several planes. Despite being on a flat, consistent background, the marks drift off into pockets of infinity. Like little galaxies or the infinite suggested by certain repetitive patterns. These paintings aspire for a greater harmony, a greater resolution, a sense that there is or could be an infinite. The colours Adrain uses are slightly cool and acid, slightly sour yellows and greens, supported by pastels and more mellow cool colours. The colour combinations are fresh enough to keep the whole project interesting yet still harmonise. Abstraction at this end of its historical passage is difficult to do well and Adrian passes it off successfully.
Contrasting these abstract works are the dead fish, Fish Tondo painting, two of which he also presented at Paradise Hills. Painted on large circular canvases, the fish paintings maintain an element of abstraction in the big sweeping forms of fish bodies in glass bowls. Up close, they erupt into the most beautiful colours gently laced with glazing. If for a moment you can avoid seeing the fish as you stand back, they are big sweeping abstracts and up close, masterly plays of raw colour. But they are fish, dead and dumped into a bowl for someone’s consumption or aesthetic amusement. There is a fishy, slimy look to the water they are in, with bubbles hovering around the gill area. They undoubtedly reference the Dutch Golden Age and its genre of dead fish paintings. The works speak of life, survival, death and mortality. Painting is a trade for Adrian, from recent abstraction to 17th century Dutch painting, he knows that trade.
He also knows installation and representation. He created a fascinating work in 2014 whereby he rebuilt from historical photographs, the Mercedes Benz within which Nicaraguan dictator Anastasio Somoza was assassinated in 1980. An insightful investigation of popular media, it hovers between the same banal pop appropriation we have become accustomed to in the last three generations and the other tired contemporary art influence, Duchamp’s found object. But it is not the original object and its role as a facsimile seems to be very tentative. The power of the work is in its materiality and absences. It describes severe violence that we are all familiar with from our own current news reports. It describes the destruction of the impact of a rocket propelled grenade on a car. We know it is not the real deal but the materials, charred, torn and burned are the same, not just a copy. There is something real about the object we see. The knowledge that lives were lost is also very real. The absence of bodies in the installation makes the suggestion of death more relevant. The work jolts out from the plethora of violent images we see every day, somehow adding gravitas back to the humanity, or lack of humanity of the those original images. It recontextualises the decontextualised pop image into a new discourse of humanity and mortality.
Adrian is a solid young artist who knows his craft as a painter and handles the complexities of contemporary art and representation well. He has built up a sound base early in his career with wonderful results. Now what remains is to see what Adrian will do next.
During this six-week course, Adrian will introduce strategies and techniques for drawing from Still Life. This course will assist beginners in developing fundamental drawing techniques. It is also well suited to people with some drawing experience who want to re-establish the foundations of their practice. Read more and enrol here.
It may feel like it obstructs your creativity, however learning the basic proportions of the human figure will help you produce accurate first drawings. I know I have reached a near finishing-point in a sketch only to realise that the shoulders are not wide enough, or the torso is too long. With practise, and really seeing and measuring the human form, these inaccuracies will diminish.
You can measure the below proportions of the body on yourself. Some people are surprised when they find out that the bottom of their nose lines up with their ear, or that they are eight heads tall. We’ve listed these proportions below as a basic guide to the human body (an average adult):
An adult’s head:
When you draw the oval of your head, divide it vertically and horizontally. Front on, you can fit five eyes along the horizontal line (not including the ears); draw your two eyes in the middle with one left in between. The pupils will be on this line.
The bottom of the nose is about one and a half eye widths down from the eye line.
One eye width beneath the nose are the lips.
The ears start from the top of the eye and finish at the top of the mouth.
An adult’s body:
A “perfect” adult’s body (developed during the Renaissance) measures eight heads high. It helps if you draw the head and then number another seven heads beneath it (see diagram below).
Draw the pelvis between spaces three and four as a flattened circle. This is important because it is the body’s centre of gravity and stability. You can then draw the line of the spine from the head to the top of the pelvis.
The thighs will fill the space between four and six, and the calves between seven and eight.
The torso begins halfway between one and two and touches the pelvis.
The shoulders are three head widths on the top of the torso line.
Draw a line down from the top of the shoulders to the fourth head. These are the arms. Elbow joints sit at space number three, wrists at four and your hands take up the space to five.
Practicing life drawing
These basic proportions will aid you to see the human body in sections and will help you produce a more accurate drawing.
It is important to practice as much as you can and get exposure to different human forms if you want to master drawing the figure.