All weekends at West Dean start on a Friday evening, with a meal, a chance to meet fellow students and a bit of preparation for the following morning's practical session.
The emphasis over the whole of the introductory weekend was very definitely on drawing. Not my strong point, but I had fun trying to improve! Saturday morning found us out in the grounds searching for bits of shrubbery to use as tools for drawing trees. We'd been issued with black ink and a what I considered to be an unnecessarily large sheet of paper.
|First choose your tree.|
Some people drew a whole tree, or even a group of trees. Others went for a more detailed approach, a particular branch or an interesting part of the trunk. I decided on a couple of branches of a yew tree that were hanging over a laurel bush. The branches were making attractive shapes and I found that the pointed end of a laurel leaf makes a surprisingly good 'nib' for drawing spikey yew leaves in black ink.
After lunch we were sent into one of the courtyards of the college to draw shadows. This time we were armed with charcoal and another oversized sheet of paper.
The idea was to lay the paper on the ground and draw round the shadows that fell on the paper. Then move to another area with different shadows and add them to our paper. Then move again, so that we built up layers of shadows, some faint, some dark, some lacy, some bold and straight, all being cast over each other. The finished drawing was full of interesting negative shapes and great fun to do. Although my poor old knees were wishing I hadn't crawled quite so far under that middle bush!
Fitted around these two major projects were smaller ones involving splashing lots of paint about, in response to some carefully structured words, working as a group to make a huge paper sculpture and using mixed media materials to give our individual interpretations of what it means to live a creative life.