On Wednesday 12th February, all the senior school Visual Art students from both General and ATAR courses, as well as many year 10 Visual Art students, boarded a bus and headed off for a day at the Vancouver Arts Centre. This is the third year Visual Arts have used such a day out to extend students’ drawing exploration skills in a stimulating indoor/outdoor setting at the beginning of the courses.
We were met there by Colin Montefiore from the Albany Art Group who had kindly organised setting up a room with easels and drawing boards and a live model for the students to draw. After a quick briefing on the Centre, we divided the group up into two and commenced activities.
One of the drawing sessions for the day was working indoors with a live, clothed model; the first time that many have experienced such intense figure drawing. We warmed up with formulaic drawing techniques with quick, dynamic poses to create a page full of gesture drawing, focusing on capturing the action. We then moved on to more closely observed continuous line drawings with longer poses, aimed at capturing fluid lines and implying form without tone. Finally, when we were all feeling a bit more warmed up and comfortable with the task, we moved on to even longer poses and detailed pencil sketches with a focus on capturing shape, proportion and form.
The other drawing session was focused outside the venue, exploring architectural drawing and practising our linear perspective. Students again warmed up with filling a page of quick drawings from a variety of viewpoints and capturing the vertical, horizontal and orthogonal lines. They then moved on to a more detailed and observational drawing including some tones and textures. This activity was made all the more interesting by the renovations happening on the older sections of the Arts Centre with scaffolding covering most of the building. Some students then elected to move back inside and draw another observational sketch of the indoor features; staircases and architraves, using pen, which forced them to use alternative rendering techniques such as stippling and cross hatching to imply form and texture.
In between drawing sessions, students were able to wander through the Arts Centre building and see what was going on. We were fortunate to speak with an artist in residence, Kirsten Sivyer, an oil painter who welcomed us into her studio, answered our many questions and showed us her latest projects.
It was a fantastic day out and the behaviour and participation level of the students was exceptional. Many thanks must go to Colin from the Albany Art Group and the staff at the Vancouver Arts Centre for making the day possible. We were all exhausted at the end of the day, discovering just how tiring it is to focus for such a long time, even with cake breaks in between sessions! However, we now have a large collection of drawings and ideas of figures and buildings to use as a springboard into starting our first units of inquiry. What a wonderful way to kick-start the year in Art!