There are six of us on the course - it should have been seven, but one was a no show - a married couple, three ladies and me. There's also, Maggie, the artist and the person running the course. It's just the right size group and everyone was very chatty and friendly.
The course is held in Atworth Village Hall (about 25 minutes away) and Maggie greeted us with piping hot filter coffee, shortbread biscuits and the goodie pack you can see in the photos - an A4 sketch pad, three pencils (HB, 3B & 5B), a rubber (eraser), a ruler and an A3 folder.
Introductions over, and we started with the first exercise - to learn how to hold our pencils and to learn what each pencil could produce. This involved drawing a simple grid, and using varying amount of pressure with each pencil to complete a tonal chart. We used a blending tool to smooth out the pencil marks.
The second exercise was to have a go at the various marks it is possible to make with the pencil and as she was demonstrating them, Maggie explained how and when they could be used.
We had a short break for more coffee and biscuits and then settled down for exercise three - a timed exercise, in two stages. It will now become obvious to you all that I can't draw!!
We had 12 minutes to copy a line drawing of an owl - the result is the one on the left in the following photos. When the time was up we had to turn the original line drawing upside down and were given another 12 minutes to draw the rotated image - the one on the right in the photo. Without exception all of us produced a better likeness when drawing the upside down owl. Maggie explained that without fail, everyone assumes that they are copying accurately but always make assumptions on what a recognisable object, in this case the owl, looks like. When the image was reversed we no longer made those assumptions but actually looked carefully at the lines and shapes we had to recreate.
The final exercise was to draw a jug by looking for the shapes in the object to create the outline. Then we were to fill it in completely using the hatching technique we'd learnt earlier, and finally create the highlights and shading by using the rubber (eraser) and applying the lifting out technique. I managed to get my outline done before I had to leave - I have to teach in the afternoon and will have to miss 30 minutes each week until term finishes - so will try to finish mine at the weekend.
All things considered, I really enjoyed myself this morning and it wasn't as scary as I was expecting. It was interesting to discover that all of us had anxiety about our artistic abilities that related back to the attitude of our senior school art teachers, and that actually, none of us had ever been taught the subject properly before.
If I've remembered correctly we will be sketching again next week, then four weeks of watercolour and four weeks of acrylics. We will also be given three paint brushes to add to our goodie pack.
So, watch this space to see how I get on! You can have a laugh at my drawings if nothing else!
Oh, and on a positive note - I saw my doctor today; the blood tests and ECG were fine, no abnormalities at all. I am relieved as the last thing I want to have to deal with is a heart condition, but am frustrated that we are no closer to finding out why I keep feeling dizzy. We left it that I'm going to focus on losing some more weight and being more active, but proper cardiovascular activity this time. Good news, anyway.