This is a post from the weareoca.com archive. Information contained within it may now be out of date.
Emma Drye (course author of drawing 2) in conversation with student Alison Churchill:
E:As the author of drawing two it’s great to be able to speak to one of the first students to go through the course. I tried to build a framework that allowed as much freedom as possible whilst also giving enough structure to aid momentum. The exercises foreground creativity, inventiveness and sensitivity, which I can imagine might put quite a bit of pressure on. Have you found the course is supportive enough to enable you to explore those sides of your thinking?
On the surface the course looks relatively straightforward. Part 1 is called “exploring composition” and has 4 projects: 1) observational drawing, 2) using space, 3) changing the scale, and 4) the human form.
I thought I more or less knew what composition was, for example — all to do with where you placed things, which angle you draw them from, what to include and what to leave out, etc. The cup to the right, or the cup to the left perhaps….?
The instructions are clearly and simply laid out. In fact it’s deceptively simple! The learning is experiential. By doing Project 1 I learned to look for design, relationships and how pattern is repeated. That choice means being selective and focussed. You include things for a reason. And by so do doing there is greater attention and care to what you yourself have chosen. You learn to look more carefully.
In Project 2, I learned to be aware of the relationship between forms, and the energy between the edges of the objects and the edges of the paper, or the world you are creating. I learned how the energy explodes outwards when you put a small drawing onto a larger piece of paper and expand the lines into the new, large space.
In project 3 I experienced how it feels different working at different scales. When drawing small, there is a sense of intimacy and care towards the object being drawn, and when drawing large — A1 or A0 — there is an exhilarating sense of freedom and expansiveness. I chose a garlic bulb to draw inspired by Ayla Morten’s superbulb. First of all I drew it actual size, then expanded it to A2 and then to A1, by which time it had stopped being a garlic bulb and had turned into a mountainous landscape! I then took the scale right back down again, by photographing and transferring the image into a sketchbook using Image Maker and extending beyond the edges to create different imaginary landscapes. Again, very exciting.
I could go on — that’s only the first 3 projects of Part 1 of a 5 part course!
So it’s not so much about drawing different types of objects, but experiential learning of the fundamental principles or laws of drawing.
I now realise, after my tutor feedback, that I could have gone a lot further with each project….. Instead of doing two or three drawings for each project I should have really pushed through to create a whole series to really get the most benefit out of the course.
E: That is very interesting. That was certainly my main concern as I was writing the course, and of course is cropping up again as we finish off the new level 3 courses. I think the exercises and projects are like a ramp, or maybe even a gangplank. If you casually toddle up the ramp you will just fall off the end, but if you really run at it you might fly. I can see that you have gone for it here though and the work looks fantastic. Another concern I had was that some students would balk at the constant pressure to be creative and inventive and perhaps worry that that meant they had to be revolutionary or make work that didn’t feel like their own. It is important to push out of your comfort zone on an undergraduate course but I did try to remind students not to lose sight of themselves. Maybe it would be a good idea for students to re read the course intro before each chapter. Do you think that the course allows for personal development so that those students who want to make more traditional drawings can still develop that using these exercises?
A: Yes, I’m sure you can. Some of them are a bit “wacky”, such as the automatic drawing project where you get a moving object to make the marks for you, or the one where you go out and do a kind of “Andy Goldsworthy” in the environment! But in most cases the instructions are quite straightforward. For example, when I did the series of garlic bulbs/landscapes, the instructions were simply to draw a cluster of small objects, focus on a cropped area and then make a larger drawing which gives the impression of a landscape view or architectural detail. If you are doing it for personal development you can focus on those projects which help you go in the direction you want to go in.
E: I think there is certainly scope for all students to do extra work for those projects that really grab them. Thanks again Alison, I love the garlic bulb waterfall in your sketchbook!