I promised myself when I was still teaching that when I stopped teaching, I would start playing around with art. I have always been “artsy” and dress in a bohemian way, but as far as actually putting my hands to work, not so much. This semester, though, I did more than just leaf through the AB-Tech catalog dreaming about taking a class. By now there was a great deal of inertia to overcome, but I managed to follow though and send money to enroll in a beginner’s drawing class.
The class, Drawing from Nature, taught by Peter Loewer, started May 1 and meets from 6-8PM on Monday nights. Loewer is a well-known artist whose botanical drawings are in many books and publications. He is an adorable guy with white hair pulled back into a Asheville pony tail, and he has opinions about everything, which are pretty amusing. My classmates are a hodge- podge of ages, but most are older adults. All of us are beginners.
The class starts with a slide show of examples of botanical drawings by noted artists. The teacher points out what has been done to show depth and shading. He then lays out an assortment of leaves, flowers, twigs, pieces of bark, corks, and dead insects, and we are free to select something to draw. We spend the rest of the two hours looking hard at the specimen we have picked and trying to represent it accurately in our sketchbooks.
Loewer circulates around the classroom looking at our work and making suggestions. I often have questions about how to make the drawing look more like the specimen, and he sketches on a separate piece of paper showing me how to make something look closer or farther away.
I am really enjoying the class and love spending time drawing. It’s interesting how my hand is getting better at transferring the image of the botanical I am looking at onto paper. The real challenge is to show the contours of the thing you are drawing. One of the slides Loewer showed us was a drawing by Durer of a crumbled up piece of paper. In just a few lines, the artist made the image appear three-dimensional.
The teacher told us to draw every day in our sketchbooks, and I am trying to do that. I find something to draw and put it on the counter. With my pencils, I focus on the flower or leaf or branch and painstakingly draw it. Before I know it, hours have passed and I am refreshed. It is like a kind of Zen meditation. It is a great way to pass the time and reduce the anxiety on a slow day in Black Mountain.