I’ve decided that this botanical illustration class is not for me.
I thought it was going to be an art class. I was wrong. The finished product may be a work of art, but the process involved to produce it does not involve the creativity and the joy I have always associated with making art. In its place, there is precision, structure, and strict discipline, to which, I find, I am ill suited.
For the first 30 minutes of our 3 hour class today, we had to sit and watch as the instructor discussed basic leaf structure, and how the leaves are arranged on the stem. I found that part to be reasonable and appropriate. (Finally in this third class meeting we were getting to the botanical stuff!) But then she spent the next hour discussing how to accurately capture the proportions (using calipers) and perspectives, and she demonstrated how to create a rubbing, turn it into a tracing, and make a precise “map” of the veins of the leaf. During all this time, we students were watching and listening, not drawing. It was all I could do to just sit still and not scream. At one point, I literally couldn’t take it anymore, and I actually started laughing. When she asked me what was so funny, I told her that the “intensity” of it all was freaking me out a little. I didn’t want to tell her that I was giggling to let off steam so I wouldn’t scream and run out of the room.
And when we finally commenced to our rubbing and tracing, it was in silence. No music. No talking. Way too quiet. Two weeks ago, I had interrupted the silence in our first meeting to express a desire to have a radio going or something. She said some people might find that too distracting, it might break our concentration. I found the silence distracting.
In all fairness to the instructor, botanical illustration is obviously something she is passionate about, and I well understand the desire to share one’s passions with others. Her lessons have been well planned, and she has given us a lot of information. I have gotten enough information to determine that I do not wish to continue. I also have a strange sensation. Is it my brain hurting, resisting the exacting nature of these illustration lessons, or is it the desire to counteract it with something intuitive, creative and fun? Maybe it’s both.
Last week's lesson. Light and shadows as per diagram.
Last week's "homework": Trace something
A bit of this week's lesson, at least as far as I got with it. See, I can do it, I just don't like it.