• Rose-Marie Marshall-Jane

Ready, steady... Art!

And with a gentle sigh of relief we open up the doors to our socially distanced and new art class.

I never realised how much I missed our art classes until we opened up those new doors to our art class space and breathed in restricted air through our masks. As with many self employed people and small businesses, we too lost the majority of our income overnight. Luckily we were able to keep going with our website, blog and online shops.

Two weeks into our Friday art class we were forced to cancel to enter lockdown and that meant that our much anticipated Urban Structures course was cut incredibly short. We also lost one of our dearest friends during lockdown. An avid artist and just a wonderful person called Paul. He supported our little business right from the start and has been an amazing friend to not just us but many people he knew. He will be missed.

All through lockdown we kept up with a bit of art by creating a few YouTube videos but it just wasn’t the same. It’s like online shopping. You can see that you’re buying bananas but can’t pick the right banana’s that you want. We can draw for a video but helping and critiquing work sent to us by artists who used our videos was much harder.

Now that we’re back, I can quite happily critic and instruct our members with the help of a pencil taped onto the end of a stick. That on hand/one-to-one experience with our members is what makes our classes special and makes it almost feel like old times. Well, my witty banter and delightfully whimsical ways might help it along too.

Our topic this week was… get ready…

A boiled egg.

Cue disappointed groans of disbelief and cries of ‘Why Miss?’

There’s a lot of skill to drawing a boiled egg in a cup you know, not only do you have to achieve the gorgeous roundness of the smooth skin but with the extra challenging light direction from behind the egg you really have to think about where the light and dark areas will be. Of course, to make it even harder (hard boiled egg anyone?) we added a crack in the top. So what part of the crack will be dark, light, medium, yolky?

It may seem a little simple, but after weeks of limited art you do need to revisit the old skills. It’s all about practice. Practice, practice, practice. And layers, you need layers of graphite. So spending two hours on drawing an egg might not seem so fascinating but get down to the nitty-gritty of it and you’ll realise the different techniques and skills you’ll need to use.

Drawing something round like an egg is also great practice for drawing other things, like eyes and faces. You may not think it or it may not be apparent but these both include creating a realistic round object, most of the time (unless you’re like Picasso) you don’t see the whole face. It may be a photo of a 3/4 face or the head could be tilted up. You’ll need to create the illusion of the face going round, even if you don’t see it. Drawing a simple boiled egg will help you when drawing rounder objects in the future. Drawing from a challenging light source will also test your rendering abilities.

That’s the first of four art class weeks completed. I’m very much glad to see people again and to know they are well, it’s been difficult for many of us but we’re back now and back to stay.

Rest assured, we kept to all the social distancing rules and with many pots of hand gel, masks, gloves and visors we did our best to provide a safe but enjoyable environment.

Much love to NHS workers, carers, key workers, delivery drivers, transport workers and anybody else who have keep this nation going.

In memory of Paul, a very dear friend.