I can draw!

“I am a firm believer 
in drawing as a way of understanding the world. 
Drawing is thinking.”
~ Milton Glaser 

Over the past month I’ve been taking Lauren Levato’s Botanical, Butterflies and Beetles drawing workshop. You may have noticed that although I took a drawing class in February last year, no drawings have emerged since then. While that particular class was an interesting survey of drawing tools and techniques, I didn’t feel confident that I could draw when I completed it.

photo copyright Maike's Marvels

So when Lauren asked me if I was interested in her class, I figured at the very least I’d get to peek at her butterfly collection before my ineptitude showed. I bought the class supplies (wow-draftspeople travel light compared to crafters and encaustic artists!) and made my way to her new studio at FM*Gallery.

photo copyright Maike's Marvels

I was off the hook during the first class, at which Lauren provided a drawing demonstration, showing how to approach a drawing and begin ‘enveloping’ the model on paper.

photo copyright Maike's Marvels

Drawing by Lauren Levato

We also discussed our individual goals for the workshop,  mine being that I wanted to learn the basics. While one student eagerly started her drawing at the end of our session, the other student and I picked out our models for the next class.

photo copyright Maike's Marvels

Drawing by Lauren Levato

At home, I happily pinned the Colona moth I had found on my back porch. However, I kept finding other ‘priorities’ to keep me from making the first mark.

photo copyright Maike's Marvels

Two evenings before the next class I mustered up my courage and started my homework, knowing I needed to bring something in to help me learn. I gridded the moth out for proportion, and refined my envelope.

photo copyright Maike's Marvels

the beginning!

photo copyright Maike's Marvels

more homework

Over the next few weeks, I worked on my moth in class and at home, sending Lauren photos via e-mail and getting lots of feedback along the way.

photo copyright Maike's Marvels

after class 2

photo copyright Maike's Marvels

homework from class 2

photo copyright Maike's Marvels

after class 3

photo copyright Maike's Marvels

homework from class 3

photo copyright Maike's Marvels

after class 4

While the other two students were far more advanced than me, Lauren met me at my level, and helped me understand how to translate a three-dimensional colored subject into a black and white drawing. She didn’t hover, which would have made me self-conscious, but responded to questions right away, and also provided suggestions as she observed us working.

photo copyright Maike's Marvels

“An individual’s ability to draw is…
the ability to shift to a different-from-ordinary way
of processing visual information
– to shift from verbal, analytic processing to spatial, global processing.”

~ Betty Edwards

I learned how to hold a pencil, how to isolate shapes in my model, what the different types of pencils do, that erasers are companion tools in the drawing process (rather than an indicator of errors), and made progress in understanding tone (with the help of a black and white photo reference).

 photo copyright Maike's Marvels

“Drawing is about correction.”
~ Lauren Levato

The biggest revelation was that no line is final. Everything can be corrected and shifted as the drawing progresses. There was also an avid sharing of books on drawing and art among all of us.

photo copyright Maike's Marvels

The other students also encouraged me and were open to showing me how they worked, which was very helpful in observing different styles of drawing. One can choose between painstakingly drawing each vein in a wing or suggesting its form more broadly with tone, and neither approach was judged as better or worse than the other.

photo copyright Maike's Marvels

Drawing by Lauren Levato

Midway through the program I noticed that I smiled when looking at my drawing supplies, when before they filled me with apprehension. Drawing had become FUN!

“Drawing is one of the best ways to meditate,
while staying connected to the world around us.”
~ Elsha Leventis

We were treated to a field trip outside to examine bagworms. These had all dried out due to the drought, which was good news for the Sycamore trees.

photo copyright Maike's Marvels

Lauren was generous in providing specimens to practice with, and provided entomology pointers on how to preserve our own specimens as we find them in our neighborhood.

photo copyright Maike's Marvels

I practiced on a butterfly wing when I stared myself blind on the moth, and learned that even a “one-dimensional” form has lots of patterns and nuances to consider.

There is still a lot to learn, a lot to practice, and a lot more to process. However, picking something to draw that I was already interested in made a huge difference in mustering up the courage and discipline to learn. Having a comfortable environment is key as well.

photo copyright Maike's Marvels

I’m so grateful to Lauren for nudging me out of my drawing insecurity, and for providing a caring and informal environment to learn in. She is very knowledgeable and passionate about drawing, art and insects, and shares this enthusiasm in an approachable and equanimus way.

I look forward to the Fall workshop, and will make the time to practice with the take-home specimens we were gifted with at the end of the session.

photo copyright Maike's Marvels

“Drawing is a way of thinking.
It is a way to seek and find answers.”
~ Lauren Levato

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