Adults often comment on a lack of confidence in drawing and associations to it with Art room traumas from childhood, which instilled a disbelief in ability or even entitlement to engage in the drawing process.
This association was expressed by some of the students at Red2Green, centre for adult learners, many of whom had not drawn since their childhood days.
In this workshop, I wanted to lay the foundations for students to be able to approach observational drawing without feeling inhibited or paralyzed and reinstate their confidence in their ability and right to draw.
I worked in steps, starting with Drawing Like a Caveman by Paula Briggs, where students were introduced to charcoal as a medium and encouraged to draw around their hands, and then, broadening the exercise to draw around an object, and then to embark on an observational contour drawing, until eventually students were inadvertently creating incredible observational drawings of skulls.
The skulls were on loan from University of Cambridge Museum of Zoology.
Step One – Introducing Charcoal and Hand Drawing
Students were very brave, as many found touch difficult and were not comfortable with feeling dirty or messy.
I was so impressed with the way that students approached this difficult activity and the very safe and encouraging environment that tutors at Red2Green had created for them, enabling learners to explore outside of their comfort zones.
To facilitate the exercise, we provided the group with wipes for their hands.
Step Two: Drawing Around Shells in Charcoal
Moving away now from the hand to drawing around an object.
I introduced students to drawing around shells so that they could familiarise themselves with the object’s contour. Students continued their exploration with charcoal which they were encouraged to push into the paper to experiment with how darkly they could use the medium.
Step Three: Contour Drawing
The leap from drawing around something to making an observational contour is big, but students had now relaxed into the drawing process, and made this step with ease.
I encouraged students to spend a couple of moments looking at their shells and then go for it – hit the paper with a line made by following the shape of the shell with their eyes.
Step Four: Observational Drawing
So now for the last push and final leap: to create an observational drawing (of a skull) starting with a contour drawing.
Students were encouraged again to spend some time looking at their chosen skull and then launch into creating a contour drawing of it on the blank paper. Again the leap was extraordinary: from the start of the day, a group of adults afraid to draw to several hours later having produced a collection of outstanding observational drawings from still life.
A huge congratulations to learners at Red2Green for the bold and brave work created here. Thank you for sharing your drawings and process with AccessArt.
Aspire to Create
Red2Green is a ‘Cambridgeshire charity providing services including learning, leisure and work opportunities for adults with a wide range of disabilities.’
To see all eight workshops in this series, tailored for adult learners, and exploring drawing, casting, printmaking, sculpture and colour, please refer to the Aspire to Create launch page here.