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Saturday, January 11, 2014

Square, Triangle, Circle

I admire artists and always wanted to draw. I’ve bought books about different sides of the brain, kits for drawing, cartooning, sketching, and a continuing stream of implements.

Yesterday we went to Ed’s 2 hour class So You Think You Can’t Draw at Plaza Art and got slung into the mainstream.

I’ve gone to many free seminars for technology, financial products, services, philanthropies, and government. I’ve even designed a couple dozen. This was the best one I’ve ever seen and here’s why.

Ed was standing at the front of the room, but his ego didn’t join him. He passionately wanted to share what he considered the fastest way to start drawing, and he wanted us all to get it before we ran out of time.

Yes, it was a demonstration, because he did everything he wanted us to do. But we were all with him, step-by-step. I drew over 40 sketches in an hour and a half.

Toward the end, we started playing “Stump The Artist,” asking how he would draw anything that interested us. He would draw it and we would draw it. There was not a previous artist in the audience.

What was the secret?

There were several. First, I admired how Ed quickly gave us a new context for understanding what we were about to do. I had wanted to do this for years. In five minutes he made me believe that this time I might be successful.

Drawing is primarily about seeing. I had read and heard that before, but I didn’t know what that meant.

Ed shared a discipline of seeing things as made up of three shapes, the square, triangle, and circle. He showed us how to combine these three shapes to form complex objects. He showed us that adding dimension could turn a square into a cube, a circle into a tube or a sphere.

He gave us three minutes on perspective when we needed it, an artist’s view of paper, and the top dozen uses of a drawing pencil. He showed us his favorite tools, and explained why he liked them.

Finally, he shared how we could get good, asking us to draw 20 objects in the next day. He said he would be around the store if we wanted to come back and show him what we had done.

Based on how far I had come under his care, I took the pledge and by 9 o’clock that night, had another 27 sketches completed. Did a fairly complex building front this morning, just to see if the magic was still there.

He didn’t try to sell us anything, although I was fortunate to be able to purchase his complete kit. You haven’t lived until you’ve played with a tortillon.

So why did this work?

In hindsight, Ed passionately wanted us to become fluent artists in less than two hours. He carefully chose what to tell us and the order of instruction so we could learn as fast as we could absorb it. I’m sure he knows other things that are impressive, but his goal was to have everyone create a body of work that would give them confidence and a desire to continue. He was starting a relationship.

All we had to do was show up. He took care of the rest.

I’m ecstatic just for what I can now draw. The unexpected benefit is a new model for communication and joy.

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