Follow a beginner on their journey through the foundation course.
What would you attempt to do if you knew you could not fail? Robert H. Schuller.
My second lesson and I am quite literally back to the drawing board, armed with packing paper, charcoal and shamy leather. For a perfectionist I have grown remarkably comfortable with the idea of getting it wrong, rubbing it out and starting again. I have learnt not to be precious and above all not to be afraid of making mistakes. In fact, they are never mistakes just the art of learning. It is amazing how much you get out of a lesson at Lavender Hill Studios.
I pick my spot and resume my experiment in boxes. However, this is just a warm up as my teacher points me in the direction of a cast of three nudes, their arms interlaced, their backs facing the spectator. They look beautiful, like three vestal virgins.
I know I will not do them justice but nor was Rome built in a day. The exercise still lies in seeing the whole before the parts but now I am also adding strong diagonals. In my head I have come to identify these as lines of flight – where the latent power of the composition escapes and so gives it depth and meaning.
I begin to cut across the right angles with a few key strokes. I avoid curves and stick to straight lines. Soon, new shapes (and spaces) emerge from my block and the curvaceous bodies of the cast whisper across my page.
I haven’t got the proportion entirely right and I have given one of them larger hips than is flattering – may I be forgiven. But I am grasping the principle and can place the technique within a history of art. I am reminded of Les Demoiselles d’Avignon and understand how indebted cubism is to its renaissance forefathers. Again, the context (or the whole) is helping me to refine my perception and hone my skills.
In retrospect I am amazed by my composure. I resolve that, yet again, it is testament to the teaching and preparation I have received. I have been given the confidence to try, and better to overshoot than to never try. With hindsight I know I was too ambitious but I have learnt so much more in the doing than if I had erred on the side of caution. It is OK.
Over the three hours I am never criticized only ever instructed. I stand beside more experienced students who have joined the school precisely because they have felt frustrated by the lack of rigour in their previous training. I feel fortunate to be learning so much without ever feeling the pain. I am looking forward to lesson 3.