On Saturday 21st I tutored a drawing for beginners workshop organised by Mandy Leivers of The Avon Gorge and Downs Wildlife Project (AGDWP). Everyone who had booked turned up so we had a full room of 17 people, which gave me a really nice group to work with. There was a mix of abilities from beginners to the much more competent, which makes for an interesting class.
After the necessary teas and coffee to start, Mandy did a brief introduction and then I quickly ran through some drawing techniques. I just had a short time to do this so that they could get onto the practicalities of drawing as soon as possible.
When I do a workshop with AGDWP the aim is to highlight the wonderful area and wildlife of the Gorge and Downs; which is just a few minutes walk from the zoo, where the AGDWP is based and where we also hold the workshops. Usually a workshop is divided into time spent walking or sitting up on the Downs or viewing the Gorge to get inspiration and time spent indoors doing the art activity. But today with the focus on wildlife, although there is plenty of wildlife there, it cannot be guaranteed to be on view long enough or close enough. So today we were staying in the classroom with the option in the afternoon of going out into the zoo to sketch either the native species that can be seen around the grounds or the exotics of the zoo’s collection. We had the use of a number of stuffed mammal and bird specimens that were kindly on loan to AGDWP for the workshop by the city’s museum. Mandy had specifically chosen the species to reflect what can be seen around the Gorge and Downs; so we had a badger, fox, hedgehog, squirrel, barn owl, jay, green woodpeckers to name a few. In the morning we practised our drawing skills on them and to help prepare them for life sketching in the afternoon I gave them the challenge of speed drawing exercises, which really makes you focus and if done regularly can hone your eye and hand to looking for and drawing only the important and necessary lines for form.
After lunch most opted to go out in the zoo grounds, enjoying the beautiful sunshine, to sketch and draw. Several stayed in the room, with me, to continue practising on the ‘non-moving’ subjects. By 3pm everyone was back for a refreshing cup of tea and piece of cake whilst we had a ‘viewing’ of what everyone had done that day. As I walked around looking at their work I was pleased to see stronger more confident drawings and hope that they all went away from the day having learned something, however small, that will help them with their drawing and sketching in future.