My Material Monday post is quite late today.......lots of activities going on and not really any time to create much anymore. So I'm writing this after a day of much needed studio time where I've been hidden in the magic of creating miniature tidal pools in oyster shells which I think is becoming an obsession. More to come later on this Oyster Shell project!
It's also a challenge as I loathe deep dark water and instinctively avoid anything to do with going near great bodies of water - the Thames river being the closest to me here in London. But of course my desire to create is stronger than my fear of water which is an interesting and perplexing conundrum so I've been engaging myself in a series of water challenges to hopefully get over this unnatural fear of dark water - one of which is to go onto the Thames foreshore with a group of others which is fascinating as history and archaeology in particular wows me and it's also a chance to find more oyster shells which then seem to fuel my ongoing miniature tidal pools project.
Today I've cleaned, painted and saturated the oyster shells I collected from my last visit with The London Cultureseekers and now of course I need more!
On the other side of things, I joined this same group yesterday to a visit to a fascinating museum in south London which was a fun day out and also an attempt to forget that it was Father's Day. I failed completely to forget it as everything was advertising it everywhere I went but it was nice to meet other people and next time I've got to be more sociable rather than stuck in my own thoughts. I love my dad and hope I talk to him one day soon but yes, Father's Day is a challenge every year.
Short blog post for today but hopefully more later in the week!
For my Material Monday post, I'm sharing with you my Traditional Drawing class I teach every other Friday evening at the Victoria & Albert Museum to members of my Meetup group, London Art Museum Creatives.
I've been teaching drawing for over twenty years and my techniques have only evolved slightly since I attended art school long ago. In recent years, I've perfected this technique to just an hour and a half and each time I'm wowed by my students and how they respond to my methods. Most of my students come to me as complete beginners - often they're able to relate how they were never taught to draw or were put down as children when in art classes which I find unfortunate. There are also some who are convinced their skills are the worst yet and that they haven't got a creative bone in their body - this I see as a real challenge as I fully believe that I can teach anyone to draw in an hour and a half.
It's my belief that it is not the student who cannot draw, but the original teacher who couldn't teach. As a teacher myself, it is my responsibility to learn how I can adapt my skills to help each individual student because no student learns exactly like another so I have to be flexible and adapt to all needs.
In these classes, I try to "dislodge" my students with a series of exercises that force them to hold the pencil in a different way which gives their shoulders movement and limits perfectionism in the beginning of the drawing. I then need to observe how they perceive their subject matter and translate it to paper - seeing how their brains work this way, gives me the key to help them progress and then follows a series of more "dislodging" exercises that get their instincts flowing and loosens up everything.
I really enjoy this dislodging process because it's almost like a window into the brain of the individual. It gives me so much information about how they observe and understand and map out the way they view this world. I love how everyone shows their style right in those first moments!
So then from these exercises, I'm then able to rebuild their creative observation brains using geometry, mindfulness and spatial exploration and then this is where most of my students begin to start to actually "see" which is very exciting.
I call these types of final drawings, "Lost in Space" drawings, because you can't wander too far from your starting point or you put yourself at risk of wandering too far into open space and getting lost in proportion and perspective.
The above image is from my recent Friday evening Traditional Drawing class at the Victoria & Albert Museum which I enjoy very much as everyone is always so talented and keen to learn new techniques and most have never been taught to draw before!
I have a system with this meetup class in that I charge just £10 for the first class and then only £1 for anyone who wants to repeat. I love seeing the progression of returning students and how much those returning students really inspire the newer members! After teaching this class, I'm always in a rush to get home because I simply can't wait to draw and then end up spending several hours working on my drawings because my students inspired me so much!
My meetup group, London Art Museum Creatives is a place where I'm trying very hard to share with everyone interested what it is like to be a painter or an illustrator or a sculptor by trying those practices out in a friendly setting, while then going back to the art museums to really look at the artwork of famous artists and then have a clearer understanding of how much work it took to create a piece. It's like putting yourself in the shoes of the artists and getting a feel for what their lives must have been like. I find this fascinating as it ties into my fascination with history and I think it's the best way to properly understand artists who came before us.
So if you're keen to join any of my event's please visit: London Art Museum Creatives for more.
If you'd like to sign up for Traditional Drawing Classes please sign up here.
*For more Material Monday posts please stay tuned next Monday for some creative challenges!
Thank you for reading my blog!
The above image is a shot of my overcrowded work space in my bedroom/art studio where I crave organisation but only achieve it in small pockets of my life while perpetually bombarded by chaos that seems to follow me everywhere!
The only thing I'm really capable of staying focused on is creating a daily routine to allow time to create.....not with the intention to sell but because creating something is equal to circulating my blood and a necessary daily activity for survival.
So after walking an unexpected eleven miles today, I've decided to post this Material Monday blog post a day early so I can attempt to be organised tomorrow instead! (insert hysterical laughter here)
In my daily creativity, I try to set aside a few hours each day to draw, sculpt or paint. Recently, I've been focused on pencil studies of the Michelangelo sculptures from the Cast Courts at the Victoria & Albert Museum but some days that kind of heavy duty drawing is difficult to get into......so I have to play around with doodling and generally being silly to get the juices flowing such as the video below:
Tonight my warmup doodling just enhanced my exhaustion from a very long walk earlier so this warm up hasn't lead to a proper studio session but hopefully tomorrow will be the day to get back on track.
If only I could be as organised with everything else as I am with my studio practice!
The pencil sketch above is an ongoing project and this portion above represents roughly 3 hours of work though I often think it doesn't look like any time at all! I've yet to learn how to draw faster - still a work in progress either way.
My method for these longer pencil studies is to capture a photo when in the gallery while I'm starting to map out the drawing. I usually spend about four or five hours drawing in the gallery itself because I feel like it's easier to understand perspective and proportions and the light while there. It's when I'm home that I refer to the photograph I took to continue the drawing. The only issue being that I'm aware how flat drawing from a photo can be so I'm always eager to bring myself and my ongoing drawing back to the gallery to study from the sculpture in person.
I'm giving myself a month or so to properly explore this sculpture and others but I'm completely focused on Michelangelo for now.
I like to give myself challenges to keep things interesting in my life as well as in my studio practice, so I've challenged myself to work on 43 faces of Michelangelo from the Cast Courts and because I'm writing this here, I feel like this will keep me accountable to some degree! I have to finish this challenge by early October so it feels rather daunting at the moment since we're just now into June!
Of all the challenges I've given myself, I feel like this one could be the nicest but also the most difficult in terms of focus. I tend to back out when things get difficult, especially in art so hopefully this challenge will make me more disciplined! Fingers crossed.
To continue to follow up on my daily progress on this challenge and others, please follow me on instagram at: @Mirmarnia
Thank you for reading and stay tuned next Monday for something completely different and hopefully oyster related!
My name is Franceska McCullough and I'm the owner and artist of Toothpickmoon. Here I will share my studio practice in all it's forms.
*Disclosure: The links I'm using on this blog will only ever relate to the products I myself use in my own practice.