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.
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.
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.
Last Saturday we held a Drawing Workshop using Ink and Shellac with Hilmi; we were very excited because it was our first of this sort and it proved to be very popular.
The workshop’s primary focus was on structural drawing techniques and describing value. Hilmi summed the experience up as a marathon day, where students worked from Still Life, beginning the day with a structural drawing, then introduced value with ink washes and then sealed this with a shellac layer. Pastel and charcoal was then used to further develop the drawing.
You can see their incredible process below! Unfortunately we do not have images of all our students’ works (if you are not featured here and would like to share your work with us – please email Lauren).
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!
We are extremely fortunate to have artist Irene Ferguson in our rank of professional artists/teachers here at Melbourne Art Class!
Irene is currently teaching our popular six-week General Drawing Course, and her Sunday Studio Art Course begins this weekend (enrolments are still open!).
Irene was born in New Zealand and we are very lucky she has chosen to cross the Tasman after wandering all around the world. She completed a Master Fine Arts at the New York Academy of Art, (cum laude) and also has a Diploma of Fine Arts, with Honours (printmaking) from Otago School of Fine Art, Dunedin, New Zealand.
Irene has had over thirteen solo exhibitions and a number of group exhibitions in her career, and has worked as studio assistant for both Jeff Koons and Louise Bourgeois.
A highly-recognized artist, Irene has been a finalist in many prizes, including the BP Portaiture Award at the National Gallery in London.
Irene is best known for her portraiture work. In 2008 she won the Adam Portraiture Award with her work, The Blue Girl, Johanna Sanders in her Back Yard (pictured). She travelled to Italy in 2010 to the Charles H. Cecil Studios in Florence, Italy to complete her training in portraiture. And Irene will soon be taking a portraiture class here at MAC!
We currently have one class with Irene with places still available – our Sunday Studio Art Course, where we invite all artists, whether you are a complete beginner and would like to learn how to draw or paint, or if have your on project you would like to work and receive critical feedback. The nine-week course begins this Sunday April 17th, and you can enrol and find out more about the course here: https://melbourneartclass.com/sunday-studio-art-with-irene-ferguson/.
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.