Wednesday, November 19, 2008

"How to Draw Real Live People" -- the latest iteration

As an opening slice of a view into my current teaching career and its background, here's the most recent correspondence, regarding the brochure listing for the class I teach:

Hello, Max --

Here are my revisions for the Winter brochure, semi-formatted and as close as possible to the previous length; I was advised by the new class coordinator to clarify that my class is an all-ages course including adults fully, and so I have revised things to underline that this is a serious life drawing/portraiture class -- especially so that serious students will not get scared away by the possibility/presence of younger and less self-motivated children. This will mean adding the Member/Non-Member tuition info as applicable. If there's any other issue with changing the age parameters, please contact me -- my phone number is (708) ***-****, in case I'm not online during the day.

(Class Info)

All Levels 12 and Up; Younger Students on Approval
Instructor: K. Aurencz Zethmayr
Dates: January 17 through March 7
Time: Saturdays 1:30 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.

Learn how to portray anyone you want to, with firm technical knowledge and feedback to help you develop your style and portfolio. Basic anatomy and proportions, lighting and rendering techniques (dry media), arranging and extracting poses, and capturing personality and likeness, working from live sittings and photos/media. Bring large (11"x14"+) sketchbook, drawing pencils, pocket folder; full/optional supplies list on file. Fee: $112 8 Weeks


KAGEN AURENCZ (AUREY) ZETHMAYR is a freelance artist/designer who emphasizes mood, character portrayal/psychology and the dramatic nature of scenes. Holds a BA Degree from Columbia College Chicago, with major focus on theatrical design. Has been doing portraiture, illustration and promotional art for over 20 years, ever since acquiring the reputation of being “a really good drawer.”

Thanks as always for your work on the brochure,

Kagen Aurencz Zethmayr

Now, I have to say, the twelve-years-and-up general age limit is a major change in setting some firm standards for this class. Originally I had the lower limit set at eight years old (which is also the general kids' classes' lower limit), because my primary concern was that my students needed to be able to read reasonably well and have the capacity to focus on their projects without excessive hand-holding and classroom management.

(I suppose I should have realized, back then, that I was hardly an average eight-year-old...)

Since then, I've actually let kids as young as six take my class so long as they clearly were interested in learning to draw (and had to deal with their emotional frustration at not knowing how to draw already); I've had eight & nine-year-olds with little/no attention span who disrupted the class by stealing each others' shoes and kneadable erasers and trying to hijack the classroom radio, and one eight-year-old who impressed me greatly by her concentration in tackling the challenges of foreshortening and realistic colour rendering. I've had fourteen-year-olds who were too inhibited and stylized to "loosen up" within the span of an eight-week term, and a twelve-year-old anime fan who surprised herself when she actually focused in during our partner-drawing exercises and captured a naturalistic likeness.

My class has always been an "all ages" class without arbitrary child vs. adult divisions, because I don't think that there is any hard and fast difference that ought to separate the two -- not in terms of technique and practice, at least -- and I think that there are more benefits to be gained by seeing what a wider range of fellow-students are doing and able to do. The main obstacles to this communalism in application don't lie in any general difference of ability, but mainly in the self-consciousness of young children, pre-teens, teenagers and adults in each other's company, when they are not used to dealing with each other on such an equal footing as classmates. The youngest children are the least inhibited, naturally, but their presence sometimes inhibits older students or shifts them into "must impress" mode (rather than willingness to explore and experiment), and it is a challenge to adults who feel that they need to be able to assert parental-type authority or else must hold their tongues.

There is also the minor detail that I am younger than any adult student I have yet taught, which poses its own challenges in terms of my having to balance my role as "teacher" with my similarity and accessibility to each age-group. Seeing me interact with younger students, I'm sure that some of my adult students have thought that I act too young, too much like one of them instead of like one of the grownups -- i.e., as a teacher is supposed to be by definition. It isn't a consistent demeanour, just one that I shift as needed to talk to each individual student or pair of partners, seeing as I'm not accustomed to 'talking down' to kids in official grownup fashion. I'm sure that I could use a slightly more stable classroom persona just for the sake of self-introduction, but so far the variation between Professor Lupin, "Professor Logan" and Peter Pan hasn't been a problem in itself. More on all of that in its time, though.

At the moment (for this week, that is), I am waiting on the arrival of the finished class brochures at the gallery, so that I can post them places, hand them out to people I know, and compose flyers to do the same with -- seeing as the La Grange Art League has never been very thorough about saturating its own local area with effective advertising for the studio classes. The gallery gets most of the attention both in the public marketing and in the member newsletter, and even that is nowhere near as aggressive as it can or should be, considering how long the LGAL has been around and active. They need more young blood and tech-savvy grassroots attention-getting...I'm presently about the youngest serious young blood on board.

Which I shall say more about in due time, seeing as I am unabashedly vocal about all manner of issues, always seeking out -- both as an artist and as an instructor -- ways that conditions and public visibility could be made better than they currently are.


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