The Providence of Fundamentals – Learning to Draw Before You Paint Pays Dividends

This story is a tribute to new students of mine who brought with them some rare commodities—courage and tenacity.  The story goes like this:

Prior to the end of 2016 I had received several requests for a drawing class.  “I want the basics,” they said, and that made me more than happy.  Rare it is to find these days a beginner who understands how important it is to start at the beginning, let alone several, unrelated, at the same time.  (To be clear, painting is not the beginning, drawing is.)

So I obliged and offered a course I called Fundamentals, Parts I and II: Drawing and Painting the Still-Life.  The first day was a great success (or so I thought).  It was February 4th, 2017, there were five students, and three had paid the registration fee, which implied they were committed to the class.  I did a demo on how to start, then each assembled a simple still-life and got to work.

As the weeks passed, the numbers dwindled.  Subject matter just not sexy enough?  Something else?  I don’t know.

What I do know is that the student who stayed with it—Yana, a talented and strong-minded Siberian—produced a beautiful still-life in graphite.  Here is a gallery of her effort:

But this story isn’t just about Yana.  It’s also about Livia.

Livia came late to the course at the beginning of March when only Yana remained.  I had already gotten to know Livia from the Figure Drawing class I held on Thursday evenings.  After a couple of weeks of figure drawing she asked me if she could attend any other class so she could put in more time.  I told her about the Fundamentals class and said she could join it on one condition: you stick with it to the end.  She agreed.

Much to my delight, she kept her word.  By the end of March, she was the only one. (Yana had left to visit the homeland.)

Livia’s development was a joy to see from week to week, which you can witness for yourself in the gallery below.  In light of the fluid world we live in today, it is most comforting—nay, most relieving—to be reminded that some understanding and practice of basic principles are ever pillars of reward.  I am especially pleased with what she was able to accomplish with the painting.  Could it have been thus without some knowledge of drawing?  Perhaps.  But rather than count on providential intervention during a baptism-by-fire painting experience, I’d prefer to see more like her have the courage to tackle the fundamentals first.

So this story is to say “thank you” to Livia and Yana for seeing the strength in the basics and sticking with it.

Brave!  Sono orgoglioso di tutte e due.

Timothy Allen
Founder and Director
The Painting and Drawing Art Studio of Rome

 

 

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