We hosted a floral design/carving class on April 15 & 16 this spring. It was a jamb-packed two days with a larger class than usual…this one more than filled up as soon as I announced it. We started out the first day showing how to ‘gesture draw’. This is a technique I learned from our good friend Wilson Capron who referenced a book written in the early part of the twentieth century by an art educator by the name of Kimon Nicolaides. This technique helps us start a ‘conversation’ with the paper and helps free up our minds and hands to get rough information down. These drawings are preparatory for the next step, which is to identify construction lines within a flower/leaf/stem/etc. We then learned how to ‘build’ our design around these basic construction lines. There was time allotted to demonstrating these techniques. I call this designing out of ‘whole cloth’ as we are not using any tap offs or the like. I believe this helps us become more proficient at designing high quality original work.
The evening of the first day we gathered in my shop where I took a close look at each student’s swivel knife. Many needed some attention to get the edge geometry and keenness up to speed. The next morning we began learning about a pressure and release style of swivel cutting. Later, we discussed stamping tool selection and progression. Here as well was time for demonstrating with tools and leather.
Each student was encouraged to spend some time each day from then on doing a little gesture drawing along with some construction line-type drawing. Starting the next day, I emailed reminders to each person with a picture that they could use for their drawing practice. As of this writing we are just over the half way point of a thirty day period that these drawing assignments will go out. I think the folks are having fun with this rhythm and I’m looking forward to their feedback after our month together has ended. It was a great privilege to have these folks travel into our valley from California, Nebraska, Washington, Montana, North Dakota, and Idaho. I think we all learned something!