Part of the OS scheme is to encourage and support new and emerging artists, so each year we award a bursary. Part of the bursary is mentoring. In our 20th anniversary year we have awarded two bursaries. Amanda Hutchings is one winner and here is an account of her first day of mentoring. The mentorship day can be hands-on drawing practice, technical advice and show advice. Amanda is having drawing lessons with Michael Angove who is one of the OS artists and trained at the Royal Colleg of Art. They focused on quality of line with an 8B pencil. An extremely soft and dark pencil, Michael insists one can get the full gamut of line quality with an 8B. They practice hair-wide delicate lines through to full-on black lines that broke the lead!
They looked at feathers and string initially, paying attention to the angles of filiments, the soft down and the hard quill. Amanda quickly picked up on Michael's technique which focuses on capturing the object in the least amount of lines.
'I am scared of drawing', Amanda says, 'A blank sheet of paper is so daunting!'. But after a few encouraging words from Michael, Amanda was filling up the page with a wonderful cluster of hard and delicate sketches. Amanda, like so many artists, comes with an institutional concept of how to make a drawing using looking and replicating. Michael insists there are no rules but a knowledge of how to handle a pencil well is vital.
After practicing line quality and observation the lesson became much harder as Michael asks Amanda to draw a hidden object through touch only. A simple task? Not really. This technique shifts observation to the fingers making the eyes redundant. Amanda struggles somewhat in marrying the drawing on the paper with what she is drawing - which incidentally, is confusing to touch. The fix is to not look at the paper while drawing. This is a strange request and unless you try it, very difficult to appreciate what a calming effect it has on the brain. One uses a new part of the brain - which many find theraputic and rewarding.
Notice in the picture above, Amanda drawing while looking out of the window and feeling an object under the board.
At the end of the lesson Amanda had several varied drawings. Some very abstract but with fantastic range of pencil. From the very delicate to the strong depth of line - this scale can be so important to making a 'good' drawing. The next test is to to engage the 'touch' part of the brain whilst looking at an object. This simple but chalenging technique can benefit portrait and landcsape in particular. It can help capture the texture of hair or tree by imagining what it is like to touch.
Amanda was also introduced to drawing in the computer by Wacom Tablet - but more about that next time.
Thank you Amanda and Michael for an interesting day of educational challenges and being a part of Open Studios.