One way that my skills have improved while living in Guadalajara was by taking art classes with the local fine artist, Miguel Vega. In his classes, we refined our ability to see through various exercises. His exercises really pushed me to work on drawing and painting faster as everything was timed.
The classes were very informal and lead with coffee and snacks in Miguel’s studio. Normally between 1 and 5 people showed up. If the model couldn’t make it we would take turns posing…with our clothes on of course. The students ranged from practicing artists to even a doctor who just wanted to learn how to draw better. The teacher did not speak English which was the best part. I pretty much got an art class and a Spanish class at the same time.
Imagina Que Estás Calcando: Imagine You Are Tracing.
One thing Miguel really emphasized was to focus more on the object you are drawing and less on the paper. Drawing quickly without thinking about it as if you are simply tracing. Sometimes we would trace our subject by holding a sheet of plastic up in the air and using a sharpie, or even just tracing the subject with our pencils through the air before drawing the real thing.
Al Revés : Upside Down // The Other Way Around
Another thing we did, which I found pretty hard, was to draw an object in front of us and then invert it or flip it upside down….but only in our drawing. Not in real life. We had to look at the object as it sits right side up and then flip it in our minds. In a minute or two of course.
We practiced a lot of “Imagine you are tracing” with our left hands as well. Surprisingly these came out more proportionally correct than those with the right hand sometimes. When I used my less dominant hand, I wasn’t trying to be so perfect because I already knew it was going to be a little shakey. I think accepting this and just going with it allowed me to focus on what my eyes saw and record it faster. I was clouded by less self-judgment which resulted in better, quicker drawings.
Mano Derecha y Mano Izquerda : Right Hand and Left hand.
We did a lot of exercises drawing nude models, switching off between our right hand and left hand every other pose. A lot of these were one-minute drawings.
Las Partes Más Oscuras: The Darkest Parts
Here we were told to look at a subject and draw only the darkest parts or the shadows. If that meant an entire part of the subject was missing because it had a lighter value, that didn’t matter. You didn’t draw anything that wasn’t the darkest value.
Las Partes Más Claras : The Lightest Parts
Again we practiced the same thing, except only painting the lightest values.
Tres Tonos : Three Tones
Here we practiced painting only the darkest and lightest values, allowing for the color of the paper to represent the midtones. (I believe these drawings were about 4 minutes each.)
The last class I went to, focused on mapping out the tones of the subject. Above we were told to roughly block in where the shadows were, “Como un mapa.“
Here we were told to use yellow, red, black and white acrylic paint to depict the subject in 4 tones. These drawings were about 8 minutes long, which sounds great compared to all the 2-4 minute drawings but it still felt like nothing. Miguel began telling us when every two minutes had passed because the first few times the majority of the class was still on the second tone when the 8 minutes were up.