So, due to my Maui vacation, I missed two of the three classes where the teacher actually went over perspective in class. Still, I’ve had a good understanding of perspective since elementary school, so I was able to understand what he was teaching by looking at the other students drawings. The only difficulty was the “busy work” that took up all of my weekend with doing careful drawing after careful drawing. We also had a “final” basic perspective drawing that was due today that combined the elements that we learned from the other assignments. (For those of you paying attention, this means that I did the final assignment that comprised what I learned from the other assignments before I began the other assignments, since its deadline had not yet passed and was thus the most important, temporally.) About half an hour before the end of class last Wednesday the teacher advised us that he would like to see shading on the “final” drawing, and ran through about 5 minutes “teaching” shading. He said we wouldn’t be graded on our shading. We should begin actually learning how to do shading in two or three weeks.
So, I did the perspective work, no problem. I was very careful to have a clean drawing with no smudges or unintended marks on the page, which can be quite difficult when working with a giant triangle and T-square resting on your drawing the whole time. I went over everything more than once, with increasingly soft leaded pencils, so that I could remove any early mistakes and only emphasize the lines that were good. Then I timidly followed his basic shading instructions, not wanting to make my 6-8 hours of careful perspective work to be ruined by my untrained inability to shade.
Today in class, we all hung our thumbnail drawings and final drawings on the wall and had to discuss what we had trouble with, and what we didn’t like about our own drawings, and then the rest of the class would try to find something they liked. Due to random selection of the side of the wall to start with, my drawing was next to last, and I got to hear the teacher spend most of his comments focusing on people’s shading. My blood pressure was rising, my mouth becoming dry, my heart racing as every new thing someone could have done better was something I saw in my own work, often by design. Had I made all the wrong choices going in? Was I supposed to somehow teaach myself proper shading in my “spare time“? One or two comments about perspective or composition came from the teacher, but even the comments about composition seemed to be attacking my use of negative space! I wasn’ sure I’d be able to open my mouth when it got to me. He even made jokes about some people’s circles not being round, something I feel I have particular trouble with, right after not being able to draw a straight line.
We finally got to my drawing after over 85 minutes of drawn out discussion, where even the most impressively-shaded drawings were getting negative feedback about their shading. I said I had tried to emphasize negative space and that I had tried to de-emphasize shading to focus on the perspective work and composition. I pointed out that I had one round sphere, but that I have a lot of trouble making circles round. I pointed out something that I had actually thought I could have done better, and then the teacher started by saying that he really liked that part of it. He was impressed by the roundness of my circle, and thought I had real control of perspective. He even said that I had a good grasp on the beginnings of shading, but that I should go back through and darken it up. The only thing he said I could work on was that it didn’t make him feel dizzy enough.
That was it, he moved on. One other student started to say that the shapes were too crowded, but when he walked up to it to point at where it was too crowded and could see it better, he stopped himself. I don’t know what feels worse; the anticipation of getting negative feedback or not getting any real feedback. Every other student had 5-10 minutes spent on their drawing. A couple that came after mine were even compared to mine (“Try to get a feeling for light vs. dark when shading, like Teel’s here.”) during the process. I get almost nothing. “Keep up the good work.” “Try a little harder on the stuff you haven’t learned yet, but are still good at.” It frustrates me.
It frustrates me because I paid $420 tuition for this class, plus most of the $350 I’ve spent so far on supplies has been for this class. If I’m just going to be told to draw without being taught to draw, then is it worth it? Another year and I should be in Painting I, which is where I want to be. I have to get through this semester, then an entire semester of “Color” and “3D Design“. Oh, and I have to find a job (or two) that I can do at the same time I’m taking classes, that pays enough to cover living expenses and classes. Which at these prices and at this rate of classes, raises what I need to earn per hour by almost $0.74, to $13.36/hr. Crap.