Draw the Line: Jennifer Smith’s Adventures in Art Continue!

By Jennifer Smith – Kelowna Capital News

Your cheesegrater is art.

So is that cake form you never use and the cutlery in your drawers. At the risk of pointing out the obvious, one of the main things I’ve learned from my art class is that it doesn’t take much to add a spark of creativity to your life.

This is an important lesson when the economy is in rough shape and your bank account is bleeding from the slash and burn sales at the mall.

Just as great fashion trends never come from the rich, great art doesn’t need to cost an arm and a leg or a carry-over balance on the card. In fact, our art teacher, Rena Warren, was telling us she did a collaborative project with friends at a dinner party over the weekend and I’m betting it’s a keeper—nostalgia’s always a trump card.

Jennifer Smith: Draw the LineSo sitting down to draw a reflective object of our choice—said cheesegrater in my case, the cake form for the guy on my left and spoons you might use at a kitchen party for the lady on my right—we enjoyed an apropos reflective chat.

Many talked about how they see the world differently now that they’ve been drawing more, noticing shadows, shapes and angles.

I can’t say this has been the case for me, but I certainly do think a creative endeavour tends to give you a new eye on life. For the first few years of writing, I definitely saw the world around me in stories. It took a conscious effort to stop sourcing everything as potential muse. Really great journalists apparently never separate themselves like this, so I’m sure my friends and family were quite pleased when I fell into the routine grip of mediocrity.

Seeing the world in pictures sounds far less threatening, though it does add a certain Shakespearean macabre as the world becomes a series of dark and light props intermingling with the grey tones.

Drawing ClassFrom a personal point of view, I think learning to trust one’s own artistic spirit has been well worth it’s weight in gold. After several years of storing my empty picture frames, wondering what to do with them, I finally managed to assemble them on a wall with plans to fill in the blanks with new drawings and objects as often as possible; even the empty frames look kind of cool.

A few classmates are going on to the Kelowna Art Gallery’s beginner acrylics class next month, but the lady sharing the table with me says she originally wanted to use the drawing as a base for painting and now thinks she might stick with “lead” instead.

There’s a lot to appreciate in a pencil. Sure it’s relegated to math class, the first draft and those years before you learn cursive, but a simple spot of lead is worth its weight in gold for the silvery sheen it builds.

Yet pencils, and even charcoal, have a secret way of scaring adults.

Jennifer Smith Drawing Class FiveSure we act as though it’s the second-class citizen to a pen or paint, but really, there’s a certain foreboding feeling to knowing that with this pencil people will know what you’re trying to create.

Look at a Jackson Pollock and there’s a squeak of a hope that this is a reproducible art form or that there’s a lot more room for give and take. A really impressive, accurate drawing, though, feels pretty out of reach if you haven’t done more than a doodle in years.

Now five classes into my first drawing class, it’s pretty shocking how much we’ve managed to learn I must admit. By turning the paper upside down (concentrating on the shapes rather than the image) to noticing the negative space behind an object and difference in colour tone, almost anyone can learn to draw an accurate representation. And none of us ever seem to produce an image quite the same.

I think this is the really cool thing about drawing. It gives you an eye on another person’s point of view.

So with this in mind, I’ll be spending the next week trying to find an image I feel I can reproduce. For our last class we’re apparently going to draw something we bring in, like a photograph or magazine clipping.

It sounds a little far fetched to me, but hey, so did drawing the cheesegrater when I started yesterday.

Jennifer Smith is a columnist for the Capital News taking her first drawing class with the Kelowna Art Gallery and documenting the experience in her series, Draw the Line.

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