My drawing class

March 14, 2011

For the past ten weeks, I’ve been going to an Expressive Drawing class in Stanford Continuing Education, led by Michael Azgour. This week, the class will come to a close.

I don’t have an art background, but expressing myself visually to make better products is something I want to get better at, and this class was a great small step in this direction. I keep doodling with a pencil all the time, but I had never drawn with charcoal before. There is something great about putting some charcoal marks on a high-quality drawing paper where you know you can keep working and reworking over and over until you get to a place you want to be.

I’ve been into snowboarding this year too, where edges matter a lot. As I was doing my last homework and carving out some edges with a piece of charcoal, it occurred to me that it’s not so different from carving edges on a hillside with your snowboard. In both cases, you need to think about what’s the direction you want to go, and which edge are you on. You shouldn’t be on both edges at the same time. But ultimately, you’re in it just for the ride, and it’s a great feel. If you mess up, just get up again and keep going.

Time is also of essence in both fields. You don’t have endless time to plan and sketch everything out. Often, you have just a few minutes. The works you see below are a mix of few-minute studies, and longer works of one or two hours.

I’m not putting these works here because they are massive artistic accomplishments. The experience of making them mattered to me more than each individual outcome. But charcoal on paper, unless treated, won’t preserve indefinitely and it’s just a nice way for me to look back at them later.

Also, thanks to Michael Azgour for great instruction in this course. The class was a great mix of theory, demos, practical studio work and homework.

And thanks to Tanel Teemusk for some of the photo references that I used.