Sunday, February 5, 2012

Class Review: 101 Faces with Carla Sonheim

I am finally finished with this wonderful class . . . or at least finished enough to write a review.  Carla Sonheim offered this class as a repeat of an earlier online class.  It cost $35 and ran for five jam-packed days.  She bills it as a "summer camp" or boot camp style class, with A LOT of assignments packed into five days. Each day began with an email and a warm up exercise (a PDF to print out). There were then two assignments, communicated via videos. One assignment was generally focused on drawing and the other was focused on painting. They covered a wide variety of media and asked participants to repeat the techniques 4-10 times. Sometimes faces were drawn from a reference photograph; others were drawn from the imagination. The goal was to have fun trying out a variety of media and to find a style that worked for you.  Carla established a flickr group where participants posted their faces and received comments. Comments could also be made on the class blog, but I didn't notice much activity there. 
Day 1 featured watercolor faces (from your imagination) and left-handed drawing. I loved the watercolor faces! Day 2 was about drawing with sharpie markers (from a photo reference) and portraits with an ink dropper. These were both difficult for me, but I was surprised to get a few decent results (including the one at the top of this post).  Day 3 was one line drawings (hated these!) and realistic drawings with pencil, sharpie and watercolor crayons (both from a photo reference). I found these difficult but a very good exercise. Day 4 was scribble drawings from live models (loved these) and graphite and pastel portraits from your imagination (drawn with an eraser). I didn't really care for the last two techniques, though the pastels were better than the graphite. Day 5 was drawing with colored pencils from a photo reference (difficult for me and made me realize that colored pencils are definitely not my medium); stylized charcoal drawing from a photo reference (I substituted pastels - love these!!!) and stylized conte crayon drawing from a photo reference (I substituted oil pastel crayons and enjoyed working with them). The final class assignment is to reflect on what you have done and make ten more faces in the style that works for you. 
I think my favorites were watercolor faces (from imagination), scribble drawings of live models and both pastel techniques, so I'll make more of each of those.
Overall, I thought this was a terrific class! I experimented with a variety of different media (and found it easy to substitute what I had for anything I was missing from the supply list) and really began to get a sense of the importance of shading (in realistic faces) and the difference between drawing from a reference vs. real life vs. from my imagination.  These last two things were wonderful insights for me. The flickr group worked well, and Carla visited often commenting on almost every face posted!  I also thought, at $35, it was reasonably priced for all the content.  In terms of improvement, I would have appreciated an introductory lesson or video focusing on the big picture of drawing faces (shapes, proportions, etc.). I think that if I had not learned this in an earlier class, I would have been really lost. There's a lot of "learn by observing and doing" (reinforced with repetition), without as much instruction or drawing theory. I also think I would have preferred to have the class run as a three to four week class, with the assignments spread out a bit more. Although I did the first 3 days in the first week of January, the other two got spread out. The videos are available forever, so I was able to pace myself, but by the time I got to days 4 and 5, there was not community left with which to interact. Overall, I give the class a solid A-.
I'd love to hear from others who took the class or others who are considering taking drawing classes.
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OLW 2012 Weekly update: not much to report this week. I battled a bad cold most of the week and organized a big soccer event (Youth Night on Friday night), so didn't have the time or energy to do much. I did finish the Faces class and encouraged DH to call the handyman to haul away some things! I'll do better next week.

9 comments:

Amy said...

I could tell, through your blog posts, that you have really enjoyed and been stimulated by this class. I have also enjoyed seeing your progression.

scrappyjacky said...

I totally agree with Amy....and I've really enjoyed seeing all your different faces.

laurie said...

drawing faces is so difficult - you are brave for venturing into this area and sharing your experiences with us. it sounds like a class that you will be thinking about and using techniques from for a long time.

Karen said...

I find drawing so challenging so I was impressed from Day1 with your work for this class!

Carrie Rosalind said...

I was so impressed with all of your faces - you definitely got your money's worth out of this class. I'd love to take it if it's ever re-run!

Sian said...

Wow, left handed drawing - now that does scare me! I'm hopeless at doing things with my left hand. All the artists in my family are left handed though. Funny, that!

I could tell how much you enjoyed this class and it's been fun going along on that journey with ytou

Maria@BubblegumandDuctTape said...

I thought I didn't have time to take art classes but I didn't realize that there were classes on-line. I guess I'll be hunting for those. Thanks for the detail review, it really helps to know that these types of classes are actually pretty good. I'm glad they had a video portion to go with it as I'm a very visual person.

Lizzie said...

It's good, I think, to move out of your comfortable artistic habits (or your rut...) and experiment with new ideas, new techniques, new media. It sounds as if you've found your five days very stimulating and rewarding - just as I did with my 5 days of lino printing in Spain (yippee!).
Great results - I especially like the child portrait at the top of this post - it is such a happy face!

Carola Bartz said...

As you know, I did take this class as well, and I also loved it, although I'm still not finished! My favorite were the watercolor faces and then I really got into charcoal. Now when I draw faces it's often using graphite, charcoal and a bit pastel - this combination is definitely my favorite. Before the class I tried faces, but this class certainly help me gain more insight. I agree about proportions, I am glad that I had learned something about that before. I also took Carla's "Imaginary Creatures", but I am so slow - the class was the third week of January, and I am at day 2! But as you said, we have those forever...