Tuesday, February 03, 2015

It’s (Not) A Draw

A couple of years ago I took a drawing class.  One of those adult enrichment type of things.
It seemed like a good idea, as it was a beginner class focused largely on basic techniques and some of the fundamentals of materials and supplies, and I thought that getting back to basics would be good for me.  In particular, I found it appealing because I’ve never had any sort of formal art instruction beyond some really, really basic instruction in oil/acrylic painting back in grade school.*
So I figured there were principles from the analog approach that I could apply to my digital workflow.  In a lot of ways, it turned out to be a little too basic for my tastes, and there wasn’t quite enough focus on the differences between the various types of media and materials.  Honestly, I knew – and still know – very little about the differences between types of leads, for example, beyond what I’ve figured out through trial-and-error.  Given that I have an almost infinite digital toolbox of digital analogs of natural media tools at my fingertips I’d kind of like to know what more of them, you know, do.
And, again, I thought there would be some benefit to a more formal, structured approach than “I’ll try this one and see how it looks, I guess.”
Which isn’t to say that the class was a waste of time, I just wished that it had been more in-depth, though I suppose that, given the amount of time available for the class – it was a total of about 16 hours, spread out over 8 sessions – I probably set my expectations too high.
In any case, a while back I – and everyone else who had been in the class – got an e-mail from the instructor about an upcoming intermediate version of the class.  I considered signing up for it, but then I started thinking about some of the other issues I had with the introductory class.

It’s going to sound like I’m trying to do some sort of “humblebrag,” but that’s not at all what I’m going for, but the other issues I had with the class related to the other students.  More to the point, it related to how the other students in the class related to me.
See, most of the other students were absolute beginners, people who had never really put pencil to paper in any sort of serious attempt at creating art.
And, to be honest…it showed. 
But that’s okay!  I, personally, think that it was great that they were making the attempt at all, and, while most of them didn’t appear to have any sort of natural talent for it, drawing is also a skill, and as such, anyone, talented or not, can get better at it.  And even if they don’t get better, it’s still possible to enjoy the activity for its own sake.
Except…well, I do have some amount of natural talent for drawing – though not nearly so much as I’d like – and, despite never formally learning how, I’ve been drawing for as long as I can remember.
So, not to put too fine a point on it, I was better at it than everyone else in the class.
A lot better.
To the extent that the instructor would have the other students stop what they were doing in order to watch what I was doing.
The attention alone, while flattering, made me uncomfortable, but what made it kind of unbearable was what followed, which were a lot of comments that ranged from passive-aggressive to full-on spiteful.
Things like, “Oh, of course he’s doing it perfectly.”  Or, “(Disgusted sound) Loot at what he did.”  Or, “I’m disgusted by how talented he is,” and, “It just makes you sick.”
It’s worth noting that most of the comments were made about me and seldom directly to me, but everyone made sure that I heard.
Again, I’m not mentioning this to make myself look good, particularly given that these comments – and even the non-verbal things, like the sighs and shaking heads – made me feel terrible.  It was not the least bit flattering.
Nor was it intended to be flattering.
Honestly, though, what really bothered me was that a lot of them would just give up.  They’d see what I’d done, look at what they were doing, and say, “Why bother?”
So…yeah, I went there to learn along with everyone else, but instead I was viewed as being an asshole just for being good at something, and my mere presence was disheartening for people.
I didn’t want to go somewhere and make people feel bad for not being as good at something as I am, and I didn’t want to be made to feel bad for being good at it,
I thought that in an intermediate class things might be different – particularly if there were some different students this time around – but given my previous experience, coupled with my desire to not have to, you know, go anywhere, I ultimately decided against signing up for it and deleted the e-mail.
In other drawing-related news, even though, as expected, no one donated anything to the cause, I ended up buying the Cintiq 27QHD Touch.  Which is also as expected, I should think.
In any case, I’ll have more on that new investment in a later post.

*It wasn’t so much an “art” class as it was an “arts and crafts” class, and we were just as – if not more – likely to spend time making things out of pipe cleaners as we were to get into any real instruction on the process and theory of art.  And when we did any sort of painting our only real options were to recreate images from vaguely religiously-themed picture postcards that would have been too treacly for Thomas Kincade.  It also didn’t help that the teacher, an old small town fuddy-duddy, not only had no interest in encouraging my personal interest in art, she actively disapproved of the type of art I was interested in creating, viewing it as too vulgar (and possibly sacrilegious).  Which isn’t any sort of indictment of the stuff I was drawing – I was a kid who was into comic books, so I mostly drew pictures of super heroes – but rather of her very limited view of what constituted art.  (See:  saccharine picture postcards, small town fuddy-duddy).

1 comment:

Merlin T Wizard said...

Maybe a university or college course would be more your level? I keep thinking about taking one on photography myself.