Join the Q: In Which Sasha Does Some Art

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Join the Q: In Which Sasha Does Some Art

Since I left school and no longer have to attempt to impress a teacher, I quite enjoy art. I don't find it easy to draw what I have in my mind, but I like the challenge of trying, and sometimes get results that I find pleasing. My efforts come in useful when I need an illustration for one of my Edited Entries - I'm particularly proud of my portrait of John Deacon from Queen. I've done a few other portraits, and even enjoyed painting a colourful tree.

I like looking at art, too, although some I like and some I don't like. An exhibition of etchings recently captured my interest - I was fascinated by how black and white line drawings could capture impressively realistic urban scenes. Thus it was when the opportunity of attending an art class inspired by the exhibition arose, I signed myself up to try something new. I was a bit daunted by the prospect, as I was worried I might be left behind in more ways than one, but the event turned out to be much better than expected.

The day started with some warm-up exercises. First was drawing with big sticks of charcoal using our non-dominant hands without looking at the paper. Fortunately, I was paired up with a similar-minded chap, so when we attempted to draw portraits of each other we didn't take the results too seriously and had a good laugh. Others managed weirdly accurate images, but I was satisfied that I managed to create something vaguely oval, never mind anything else. The philosophy of the workshop leader was that it didn't matter what it looked like as long as we made some marks - there was no 'wrong' way to do it - so that was reassuring.

Exercise 1 - portraits gradually becoming more recognisable

Next, we did the same exercise again, but with our dominant hands. More by accident than design, the portrait came out much more recognisable, with glasses, nose and mouth all being visible. Thirdly it was time to do the exercise again with our non-dominant hands, but this time with biros so the writing implement moved much more smoothly over the paper. I don't know what happened, but the top of the chap's head somehow went missing, although I managed to draw the glasses. Finally it was the same again with dominant hands. I like the Picasso-esque results!

Next it was time for something more controlled. We learned some sketching techniques and then drew our hands and shaded them to look as 3D as possible. We again had to use biros, so there was no erasing mistakes, but that just meant that any 'mistakes' didn't matter because it was what it was. Not bad results, but I did feel as though I could have done better. Next was drawing a Still Life. Again I was a bit disappointed that it didn't turn out as realistic as I had visualised in my mind's eye, but on reflection I was quite satisfied with what I did as, without the original scene to compare against, it is a pleasing composition.

Drawings of a hand, a still life and a building, with a mirror image print of the building

Next it was time to go outside and draw buildings. As I had feared, people did run off and leave me behind. However, as we only had 15 minutes to do a sketch, I didn't mind - I stayed near the entrance with one other person to maximise the drawing time, while the other people complained that they ran out of time after having spent five minutes going further afield. I was just about satisfied with what I managed, but it was a challenge to draw while random passers-by were walking along the pavement in front of me so I did well under the circumstances.

Back in the workroom, it was time to do a print of our sketches. We added a thin layer of ink to a glass plate, put absorbent paper on top and then traced our sketches on to the paper.

Unfortunately, it wasn't until we had all finished tracing that the workshop leader reminded us not to lean too heavily on the paper otherwise we would get splodges of ink on the print. However, as with the first exercises, it didn't matter if things didn't turn out quite as planned - the accidental grey clouds added to the atmosphere of the print like other etchings in the exhibition.

I was impressed by how much I had managed to achieve in a relatively short time. The workshop leader commented that my architectural drawing was 'stripped back - just squares and lines' which may or may not be a compliment, but I am pleased with the results, anyway, and that's the main thing!

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