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Posts Tagged ‘worcester art museum’

I recently finished taking a drawing class at the Worcester Art Museum. Going into this class, I had only very basic knowledge of drawing — I was okay at contours, but knew nothing about shading, or proportions of the body and face, or perspective. And I want to be better, both for myself, and for Storied Threads.

During the first class, our teacher had us do three drawings so she could assess our skill levels. She had us draw our hand (to see what we knew of contours), do a self portrait (to see what we knew of shading), and draw a corner of the room (to assess our knowledge of perspective).  When I got home and told Mike about the class, I showed him my hand and corner drawings — and wouldn’t even let him see the self-portrait. It was THAT bad.

I tell you this because I’m still not going to show you that travesty of a self-portrait. But it’s important to know that’s where I started, so that you can fully appreciate what comes next.

Hand

My hand, done as homework after our first class in which we started talking about shading.

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A lily, drawn during the lesson on flora.

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From our lesson in body proportions. I finally understand all the rough sketched ovals artists use!

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Homework after the body proportions lesson, drawn from a photo of myself as a toddler. I sent it to my mother and said, “Ignore the face. I’m rubbish at faces.”

Roman

From our second lesson on drawing faces. Drawn in the Roman gallery of the Worcester Art Museum.

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From our final class, drawn from a model in the classroom. 

What I find truly fascinating is this — When I told my mother I was rubbish at faces, I really was. (Although looking back at that drawing, I can see a cool cartoon-face aspect to it that I kind of like.)  And having a good teacher, somebody who was able to communicate well to me the techniques that I didn’t understand and help me work through my stumbling blocks allowed me to improve leaps and bounds in just two months. At this point – I genuinely ENJOY drawing faces! I’ve started drawing portraits of my family, using photographs as a model just for fun.

I still have quite a lot to learn about drawing and about art. But in this class, not only did I learn a lot technically – I learned that drawing is something that I truly love. And that is invaluable.

 

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Worcester, MA doesn’t have a great reputation as a city. When it was first suggested to us that we move here almost a year ago, I sort of balked at the idea, largely because of its reputation. But, the location was good, the condo we were able to rent from a friend was fantastic, and in the end, we decided to move here.

And are we ever glad we did! In addition to being a great location for so many New England conventions at only 60 minutes drive from Boston, Providence, and Hartford, we’ve discovered that Worcester has a lot to offer in terms of things to do — somthing we were sorely lacking in Taunton, where we lived previously.

 

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Restoration work at the WAM last August

The Worcester Art Museum

 

For starters, there is the Worcester Art Museum. Not only is the museum itself lovely, with collections in a great many periods and regions of art, they also host special exhibits, offer workshops, and art classes. I’m about to finish my second art class at the museum, and am excited to take even more as time goes on. And two weeks ago, we took part in one of their Longsword Workshops, learning about the history and use of a longsword, including many exercises in which we got to actually go through simple combat moves ourselves. I’ll be writing in a couple of weeks about the full experience of this latest art class, so keep an eye out here if you’re interested.

 

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A foggy morning in our cemetery

Cemetery Walks

 

Okay, this one is pretty specific to the actual building I live in. But there’s a cemetery right across the road from us, and on nice days, we’re able to walk in it. It helps us get exercise, we walk in a place that isn’t urban roads, and which feels fairly safe. We get to track the status of the zombie uprising as we see old graves with what appeaers to be freshly turned dirt. We find grave markers with names like “Bizarro” and “Crowley” and are probably more amused than we should be by them. We say hello to the geese that hang out there while migrating. We hope for a sighting of the graveyard bunny who lives there, and who Mike has named “Neil”, after Graveyard Book author Neil Gaiman. It’s a good cemetery, and they are good walks.

 

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Photo by Mike Hendrickson, UnityMike Photography 

StART on the Street

 

Worcester is also home to awesome events, like StART on the Street. StART is a huge street fair featuring hundreds of local vendors, artists, musicians, food, and more. It fills up Park Avenue for many blocks and attracts thousands of people. I attended last September’s event and loved it — it was great to get out and shop with local businesses who I might normally never see, folks who have an Etsy shop but no local storefront. I had actually hoped to vend at this show in 2016, but alas, it is the same weekend as Granite State Comic Con, so I won’t even be able to go this year. You’ll all have to go for me, and let me know how much fun you had!

Escape Games

Photo taken by the Escape Rooms staff after our epic failure.

Escape Games

This past weekend, we went to Escape Games Worcester with friends to play an Escape the Room game. The concept is pretty simple — they lock you in a room with a theme for one hour, and in the rooms are a bunch of puzzles and clues. One puzzle solved will give crucial information needed to solve the next, and so on until you find a key that will unlock the door. Sounds easy, right? Alas, we failed to escape our CSI themed room. We were SO close, though! I think if we’d had 10 more minutes, we would have succeeded. These games are pretty popular right now, and you can probably find one near you wherever you live. And I know that – despite not succeeding in our mission – we had a lot of fun, and definitely hope to go back to try one of their other rooms.

This is just a handful of the things we’ve discovered to love about Worcester since we move here, and doesn’t even touch on the things we have yet to experience. I’m looking forward to living here for quite a few years, and excited by the idea of having a real community to be a part of.

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CreepyClownHead

Creepy clown head sketch from our first session, focusing on countour drawing.

Quite a few weeks ago, I wrote a post here about the fact that I had gotten up the courage to take an art class. I wanted to be able to do more of my own art as the base for my embroidery, to reduce my dependence on other artists (most notably my husband).  So, I signed up for a five-week class called Sketchbook Hacks, held at the Worcester Art Museum, and got ready to be a student again for the first time in a LONG time.

 

2015-10-14 11.31.55The class was not exactly what I was expecting.  Where I had hoped for a class that would teach me the basic fundamentals of sketching and drawing, what I got was a class that, each week, presented a different medium or technique that one might like to incorporate into their sketchbooks. This included pencils, collage, photocopy transfer, and other things.

Class two required us to create a collage out of a pile of magazines and catalogs, and then to use colored pencils to re-create the collage. This was, to be honest, where I started to feel frustrated. While I think that my end result is not that bad, I know that I would have done better if I’d had some instruction in things like how to use color and texture with colored pencils. I disliked being given a project, a pile of tools, but no instruction in how to use those tools. Nevertheless, I did my best and (I think) did okay.

2015-10-21 08.58.30Photocopy transfers was a class that I found more arts-and-crafty than anything else.  The instructor taught us a variety of techniques for how to transfer the image from a photocopy to our sketchbook, and while interesting, I wasn’t really feeling it. Our goal was to then use other mediums — pencils, watercolors, other photocopies, whatever we wanted — to create a piece of art.  I decided to try to turn this image into a ghost, and since I’d just seen Guillermo del Torro’s “Crimson Peak” a few days earlier, that apparently involved a lot of red paint. Not my most shining moment in the class, but still worth sharing if I’m going to share the full experience.

2015-10-28 08.45.17Finally, in the last two classes, we got back to actual sketching, which was all I really wanted in the first place!  One class focused on the use of word prompst, drawn randomly from a bag, as a tool to simply inspire drawing. A sort of way to get back the artists’ version of writer’s block.  We did a lot of sketches that were really fast, with only a few minutes to get our ideas down on paper. And then for the last portion of the class, we had more complex or intricate prompts to really spend some time on. “Hands” was an incredibly intimidating prompt for me, but I am very proud of the result.

2015-11-03 19.30.33And finally, in the last class, we were given a hairdresser’s head that had been practiced on until it was nearly bald, as a model, and told to draw it to the best of our ability. And this is mine. There are techniques I know of conceptually that would have made it better, but learning those techniques will be my job in a future class.

And there will be future classes — I’m already planning to sign up for a beginner’s drawing class in their next term, which will hopefully give me more of the instruction I was looking for here. I may not have gotten everything I wanted out of Sketchbook Hacks. But I did gain the confidence in myself to keep trying, and that is certainly something to value.

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The cover I drew for a short story in elementary school. The grade is not listed, but it was written in small cursive, so I'm guessing this was drawn around fifth or sixth grade.

The cover I drew for a short story in elementary school. The grade is not listed, but it was written in small cursive, so I’m guessing this was drawn around fifth or sixth grade.

I have never been a very good artist. Even as a kid, my drawings were pretty rudimentary at best, and I never did well in art classes. I vividly remember moments of extreme frustration in the art classroom because I couldn’t get the things in my head to come out right on paper. Once, I even convinced the art teacher to finish my project for me, though I can’t now remember how I managed that particular feat. Crafting, now, that I wasn’t bad at – I made countless houses out of pipe cleaners, and went through a pretty serious wet clay sculpting phase. But drawing? I had no inherent talent.

The original art for my Jormungandr patch. I've improved since I was 12, but there's still a long way to go.

The original art for my Jormungandr patch. I’ve improved since I was 12, but there’s still a long way to go.

As it turns out, the career I’ve chosen to build for myself really works much better when one can draw.  This is true as a costume designer, where drawing concept sketches of outfits can be key not only to creation, but to selling your vision to a director. And it is also true when it comes to my embroidery.  Many of my early designs were created using public domain clip art as a base for the embroidery due to my aforementioned lack of skill. But for the last year or so, I’ve been striving to use original art as much as I can. Sometimes I draw things, sometimes my husband does, and I’ve even occasionally had things drawn for me by artist friends, both as gifts and as paid commissions.

But I know that my own skill is still incredibly rudimentary, despite the amount of practicing and experimenting I’ve done. And while Mike helps as much as he can, giving me advice and critique, he can only do so much.

All of which is build-up to say that starting in a few weeks, I will be taking the first art class I’ve taken in over 20 years.  It’s a class on sketching being taught at the Worcester Art Museum, and I am equal parts excited and scared.  I know I tend to get frustrated when I’m not immediately good at something — which is not ideal for learning new skills!  And all I can think of is those childhood art classes. But here’s the thing about those — I don’t remember anybody ever really trying to teach us HOW TO DRAW. I remember being told to find a picture in a magazine, and then draw it, but not being given instruction on how to actually do that. I was never shown any kind of tricks or technique. So hopefully, this class, which is aimed at adults and not just killing an hour in a kid’s school day, will be much more productive for me.

Anyway, wish me luck! Learning is always a good thing, and I’m really excited by the potential this kind of professional development holds for both me and for Storied Threads.

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