Why Art Class?

The Hermitage School of Art (yes, “Hermitage“, not “Heritage“) is run out of a woman’s home. It’s a very nice home, with three large upstairs rooms running three different classes simultaneously. Victoria, the headmistress/schoolmarm/whatever employs maybe half a dozen assistants, most of whom manage the beginners’ classes. Victoria and one or two of her more senior assistants rove all the classrooms, offering advice of all kinds — “watch the negative space here,” “grab white for this highlight,” etc.

Most of a student’s time is spent working on a piece, and the instruction, such as it is, is very practical in nature. The school limits itself to teaching the realistic reproduction of reference photos with pastels, acrylics, or watercolors, and the walls are adorned with some pretty impressive pieces by Victoria and some of her advanced pupils. The use of reference pictures allows the instructors to “see” what the students are seeing, and enables them to accurately advise on how to achieve a particular effect.

Ultimately, I’m there to tweak my mad c0lor1ng sk1llz. Intellectually, I know that a human face seen illuminated from one side positively BOILS with colors — reds, whites, purples, blues, reflected colors from the background, and so forth. Practically, when I sit down to color my Schlock, I seldom take the trouble to do more than pick a single fundamental color and flood-fill. Lately I’ve been doing deeper shading on Sundays (I’m pleased with the last two Sunday comics, here and here) but even then I’m timid with the color range. Rarely do I stray out more than “halfway” up or down Photoshop’s color bar for a given fundamental shade, and I never nudge the colors sideways, introducing other shades from reflected light.

I’m not saying I WILL do this once I’ve learned how. I’m just saying I want to learn to be able to, so that the crap you see in the comic is crappy because I CHOSE for it to be crappy, rather than because I can’t do any better.

The comic isn’t called “Schlock Mercenary” for nothing, folks.

–Howard

4 thoughts on “Why Art Class?”

  1. Have you ever taken a life drawing class?

    Money’s probably tight, so I won’t recommend taking a life drawing class at the local community college. They’d probably want you to take a bunch of lower level drawing classes first which while potentially helpful, can add up expense wise. Instead, find a local art supply store. If you can find a mom & pop store rather than a chain you might have better success. Ask them if they know of any place that offers life drawing sessions on the cheap, or if they have a list of willing models. My local art store offers 2 hour open sessions on Wednesday nights for $5.00 a head…not bad really, especially when I consider how much better my art has become. The only clincher is that there’s no instructor available to give critical advice. If no one offers an open session, but you can find willing models, you might want to start your own session. Most models charge a flat fee per hour, regardless of the number of artists. having more artists available to split the cost can reduce your out-of-pocket expense considerably. The only drawback to this is finding a decent location, one that affords privacy for the model (many models that are willing to pose nude still feel uncomfortable UNDRESSING in full view…having a private space for them to disrobe and store their clothes and belongings is usually a must…even if it’s just a room divider or screen), and one that allows you to control the amount and direction of available light.

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