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.
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.