Saturday, 9 May 2015

Drawing the Graphic Novel

I started a course at the Prince's Drawing School (now called the Royal Drawing School) on Drawing the Graphic Novel.

I realised that if I was ever going to finish my poor neglected comic/zine, I needed some professional help to know how to put it together.

Unfortunately I did my back in and missed the second session this week where we had life models - bah!

But these (below) are from the first week. I debated about whether to put the pictures up here, because I find them mortally embarrassing.

The teacher was absolutely great, and I like her work a lot. After a lot of very indifferent adult education teaching, it is so good to come across someone who is talented and puts such a lot into it. You knew you were in good hands right from the beginning.

However, the class wasn't an unmitigated pleasure, because the others in the group (about 16, though the class size is 20, quite big) are SO GOOD.

It was quite a chastening experience. 

They've recently graduated from degrees at art school (Glasgow School of Art, the Drawing Year MA at the Prince's Drawing School) and work in professions like graphic design. When we put our drawings up on the wall after each exercise to compare,  I wanted to sink through the floor with shame.

It's not just the standard of the other students, but it exposes my weak area,  which is drawing from memory/imagination. If I draw something in front of me, it is vaguely reasonable. If I draw something from memory or the imagination, it looks like a five year old's stick figure.

(At one point, the teacher said after one exercise 'It makes you realise we don't really know what things look like'. I was hugely cheered by this.)

I wish I had taken some pictures of the other students' drawings so you could see them. Maybe when I get to know them a bit better, I will ask. 

Anyway, enough excuses. Here they are...

We had to draw a partner, in a sort of shorthand/cartoon style, for 3 minutes.  My partner was an Italian girl called Marta. She is much more beautiful than this. I had to apologise for my drawing.

We interviewed each other. 

We put our partner's story into a one page cartoon, explaining how they'd ended up at the drawing class.

Here is my thumbnail sketch of the layout

The teacher said she had asked us to interview someone else, as it gave us a short basic storyline - your own experience is too complex to boil down to one page. Clever thinking, hey?

See what I mean about drawing from memory? My toes curl up with embarrassment looking at this.

I was sneakily drawing from life here, which is why it's a bit more convincing.

I was quite pleased with my one page comic, until we all put them up on the wall. The others were so imaginative and creative, so beautifully drawn, so nicely layed out. Instant Art Envy.

Never mind. It's important to just grit your teeth, and soldier on, than to compare yourself and give up.

 The next exercise,  we had to draw different types of movement.

A person running, a car speeding, a ball dropping, a person staggering, a paper blowing in the wind.

The Glasgow School of Art graduate praised my ball dropping. I nearly kissed him out of gratitude. I was quite touched, as everyone else had drawn beautiful elaborate little cartoons, not stick figures.

By now I had given up, and was just going with it. There's always got to be one dunce in the class.
The last exercise was way, way out of my comfort zone. We had to draw scenario one.

Now, I know what dogs look like. But somehow, drawing them from memory is like asking me to levitate.


It does make me laugh though, which is not a bad thing in a comic.

Someone else had drawn the dog face-on, leaping up to catch it in its jaws with all four paws in the air, foreshortened. How do they do that?

I emailed the teacher for homework. This week she's asked us to keep a visual diary, drawing every day and incorporating text. It could be anything, a dream, an event, something you've seen.

I drew my week in bed after gardening disaster.

Onwards and upwards!

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