Wednesday, February 26, 2014

School Days Again

Earlier this year I enrolled in two courses: a third series of the Life Writing classes I've enjoyed so much and Drawing 101, taught by the talented instructor of the Acrylics Exploration class I took last year. Those two, two-hour courses started last week, and they, along with their homework assignments, are eating into my blogging time in a big way. But I love them. God, I love school. Always have.

The first two Life Writing lessons have focused on research skills, which we certainly need to know, but I hope we'll soon get back to writing exercises. I'm always fascinated by the diversity of stories generated by different individuals' interpretations of an assigned topic. If my life had been more interesting, perhaps I'd consider writing a book about it, in which case the research skills would come in handy. Unfortunately, my life is best described in a series of anecdotes that skip over all the boring parts.

I decided to take the Drawing 101 class to gain a better understanding of how to use light and shadow, perspective, and other techniques that will help with painting. I haven't painted a single time since the end of last year's classes, but I intend to take it up again soon. (I even ordered an easel yesterday, mostly to make my order large enough to get free shipping, but I do think an easel will help me keep my sleeves out of the paint.) Anyway, we've only had one drawing lesson, and I've already decided I like painting better, mostly because paint covers the surface a lot quicker than pencil marks do. I do have to give our instructor credit and say I'm impressed by how much she taught us in just one class. About half an hour into it, she handed out realistic plastic oranges and asked us to sketch them. Here's my rough attempt:

I realize this is too long for an orange, but that's what it is:
an orange with lights shining on it from several directions.

For the next half hour she talked to us about lights and shadows, how to give a drawn object dimension, and what kind of pencils and other tools to use for different drawing tasks. Then we tried drawing the oranges again:

Still not a great-looking orange, but
definitely better than the first try.

After further explanations and demonstrations, she assigned us homework: "Go home and get a fruit or a vegetable--something your brain is already familiar with--and draw it." Here's the vegetable drawing I did this morning:

I'm kind of pleased with this bell pepper. It's a long way,
from perfect, but I think it shows a lot of improvement,
especially after only two hours of classroom instruction. 

Do you see why I like school? Learning something new is so much fun, no matter how old you are.


  1. I love your bell pepper and have missed your blogs. However, I totally understand your fascination with learning.

    1. Thanks, Annette! I miss writing here, too, but I'm hoping the Life Writing class will pay off in the form of more interesting blog posts down the line.

  2. I'm amazed by your drawings!!! Good job!

    I LOVE school... as long as it's a subject I'm interested in. I found myself on the phone for hours today to verify if the class I've been taking for weeks is actually required for my new job... when I finally got word in writing, I dumped it!

    1. Holly, thank you! I, too, am amazed that the third drawing is easily recognizable as a bell pepper. I'd be more amazed if it more closely resembled the bell pepper that was physically in front of me.

      I agree with you about dumping classes that don't interest you. Life's too short for that.

  3. Your school story is great and the pictures of your improvement are impressive. Somehow I missed reading the story for writing class from Feb 22. Please write some follow up stories. You are so lucky to have such memories and pictures to go with them.

    1. Ter A, thanks for your very nice comment and for your suggestion, too. The Life Writing class I'm taking includes exercises that jog our memories about events that have happened in our lives, so there will definitely be more true-life stories here in the future. If those are the kind you enjoy, click on the label "past" in the sidebar, and it will pull up a bunch of them. Also, I did write one follow-up post to the "Bound for Beaumont" story. You can find it here.

      And, yes, I am lucky. I know that, but it never hurts to be reminded.


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