Week 4 – Drawing from Life

Today went really well. Normally our session happens in a big cafeteria, but a big meeting was being held so we had to go into this small back room. We’d brought objects this time – a buddha candle, a votive, rocks and crystals, fools gold, a sphinx sculpturette, a maraca, shells; a wooden Adinkra symbol (Gyname). Because of the meeting we weren’t allowed to drum at all but they spent most of the time painting.

KT joked earlier that she’d bring in lighted candles (already lit)! The night before, we’d talked about what to do and both of us (for the seond time) had similar ideas. I woke up that morning looking at a pillar candle trying to rack my brain for last minute ideas. I thought it was too simple, but later when I talked to her just by virtue of her mentioning she’d thought of it I decided it would be worth a try. Once seated at the table she did lite them, andthe chattering quieted as they watched the flame. There was definitely more of a focus this time around. We arranged our objects in the middle of the long table on a black cloth and asked if there was any they each wanted to draw.

Almost immediately after I handed out paper they looked for the paintbrushes, picked out what they wanted to draw and started trying. Two of them really surprised us. One was really good at capturing the details of an African Spice holder, engraved with intricate lines. His drawing reminded me of an Incan mask. Later he would go on to paint two more pictures without being asked, that were very interesting; the eye of Horus above an ankh (from his imagination) and a portrait of me that wasn’t so bad! The second started drawing a face from his imagination that really intrigued me. “This definitely seems to be more of an artistic group” KT remarked.

Another  student wasn’t feeling his maraca drawing, but he used the watercolor pencil anyway to draw fine lines in every shade of the rainbow which gave a very bright, colorful quality to his drawing. When I pointed out the quality it had, and brought over the security guard for his approval, and held it up against the wall so he could see how the colors stood out from far away I could see he appreciated it more. Then he asked, in a hopeful way, “are ya’ll going to be here every week? Because, I wouldn’t know what to do [with myself] if ya’ll weren’t here!” That enthusiasm is what I use to measure success.

What was different about this time than last week? They tried harder. They had something to measure against. They focused more. I really feel having the candle lit helped initiate that space of concentration; helped suggest that something needs to happen.


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