On the rehabilitation of a recovering lawyer
I thought it might be fun to do a run down of the classes I’m taking this semester. Six weeks in, I finally feel like I’ve got a decent handle on what most of them are. (Hint; subject matter is largely unrelated to subject name).
So, this semester I’m taking three practical courses and one theoretical. Two of the practical courses are introductory, so-called ‘foundational classes’, which are mandatory for students across all the different studios and workshops.
The first of these is Life Drawing (also known by the subject name ‘Figure and Life’), an art school classic. This class is held over 4 hours one afternoon and involves a lot of charcoal and strange men’s bullocks. I actually find it a really difficult class as I (a) don’t like drawing in public and (b) don’t have a very long attention span.
Odds are you haven’t tried doing life drawing for 4 hours straight, but heads up, in exhaustion terms it’s kinda like running for the same length of time. Often we do a lot of exercises in this class to try new ways of drawing (attaching charcoal to long bamboo poles, using wax and ink, using the wrong hand / both hands), which is excellent in terms of exposure to techniques but sapping in terms of energy. You can only suck at so many things consecutively before you think ‘fuck this, I’m done, pass the wine’.
And it’s only 3pm.
To stave off these alcoholic urges born of frustration, I often take strategic toilet breaks.
I’m reasonably sure my tutor now thinks I’m pregnant.
The other foundation class is called something like Object and Image but is really a sculpture class. Or ‘crafternoon’ as one of my classmates calls it. It is also 4 hours on an afternoon but is a lot less taxing simply because it’s a lot less structured and involves more sitting down. So far we have made skeleton bits (skulls and, for me, feet. Not a fetish, I was assigned the feet) out of cardboard and hot glue (oh Lord the burn-blisters I gave myself those weeks), made ‘earth art’ installations by the lake (otherwise known as learning to make dream catchers from reeds & sticks) and learned how to solder (having burned myself so repeatedly I stuck to playing with wire - sans soldering iron).
I really enjoy this class - less because of the subject (I’m a lot more interested in life drawing than sculpture generally) but because it’s a hilarious riot of conversation and raucous chatter. It’s really cool to spend time with people from other workshops who you would otherwise never meet (each workshop is quite physically separate from the others within the School of Art complex). Last week we went to get beers after class, which escalated in typical fashion and confirmed my long-standing view that friendships are solidified with booze.
My last practical course is the only one in my major, my ceramics class. Right now this class excites and terrifies me in equal measure. I love playing with the clay, feeling out the forms and learning to meld it as I wish (dominion over other forms has always been deeply satisfying) but am completely lost in the new lexicon of technical terms and chemical compounds. Being one of those kids who flunked year 10 science and thereafter dropped it completely, I find being trusted to mix chemically-sounding-things together a nerve-wracking exercise. (Will it change colour, froth, explode? Is there anything combustible in the vicinity?)
I am also completely lost in any discussion involving the different types of clay (many), different glazing methods (multiple) and different firing options (multitudinous). This last part I’m largely ok with, though, as I can probably read a book on it - and that’s one skill I have.
Speaking of books, my last course is also called something oblique like ‘Form and Space’ (what even?) but is actually just an introduction to art history. In keeping with current convention, the art history lectures spend a lot of time telling us that they don’t teach chronologically as to do so would create a metanarrative of progress with classicism as a central driving force before proceeding to do just that. Personally, though, I’m quite happy with this apparently unnoticed inconsistency, as learning something in a narrative structure is approximately 1000 times easier than learning it without (that approximation with numbers is another reason why my workshop should be wary of me mixing glazes out of chemically-sounding-things).
All in all I can report that my recovery is going well and I’m having unhealthy amounts of fun… a position I may need to revise after next week’s mid-semester review.