|Amy drew her cat. It's a lovely likeness of a cat in motion.|
Last week I challenged Amy Vail to let me teach her to draw, after she told me she “lacked the gene” to do it. Amy has never had a drawing lesson before. I want to show you her progress, because it’s amazing and wonderful.
|"I noticed that shadows of balls are also circular," she told me. "They are not just amorphous shapes of dark."|
We started with plain old measurement, using our pencil as a ruler: “The rock you are looking at is two units wide and one unit long.” She got that right away, and understood that she could scale her drawing on the paper. (This is not the simplest concept, and one that often trips people up.)
“I thought measuring was cheating,” she said.
|A tomato, by Amy. Note that she is getting into shading intuitively. Note her fantastic natural line.|
I then walked over and started to pound my head against the afore-mentioned rock. Why do people believe drawing must be a matter of subjectivity and instinct, when it is based on rules that are as rational and systematic as are mathematical rules?
“I have not one recollection of ever having been taught a thing about drawing in school,” said Amy, which goes a long way to explaining why she believed she couldn’t ever learn to draw.
|Amy drew her aunt's Christmas cactus while waiting for said aunt to finish a phone call... that's devotion!|
“Look! That rock looks like a sleeping lion,” I said. “No, it looks like TWO sleeping lions, she responded. She was right. I knew at that moment that she could make the intuitive jumps that separate mere draftsmen from artists, and that separates art from math.
|Amy drew her foot. She got the angle of the ankle and the overall shape perfectly.|
This is a person who believed—eight days ago—that she couldn’t draw. But she draws wonderfully!
|And in her first week of intentional drawing, Amy tackles the ellipse of an egg cup. Without ever hearing a word about how to do it, she draws the ellipse of the lip very accurately... which leads me to her next homework assignment, below.|
The last sketch shows Amy’s homework for when I’m away in Maine: she is to practice drawing cups or other vessels with ellipses. She is to practice shading.
I can’t imagine what she will be doing when I get home. Or a year from now.
|Amy's homework while I'm in Maine is to work on observing values and to practice drawing cylindrical things with ellipses. (I would draw wine-glasses; she will probably concentrate on her egg cup.)|
Do you believe you can’t draw or paint? Amy’s just shown you that that’s simply not true.