The Luxury of Being a Student

It’s been thirteen years since I’ve carried the title “student” on a card in my pocket. And I  have to tell you I wasn’t a good student.  I slept late and skipped the classes I didn’t like, crammed all night with Mountain Dew, and slept through (*yawn*) long lectures and videos.

If I wasn’t being lazy, I was prideful instead, thinking I knew more than my professors or generally disagreeing with their methods of teaching.

I was a charmingly good, bad student, purposeful in getting my teachers to extend mercy and assignment deadlines.

Since my mom is reading this right now, I’ll add that sometimes I was a passionate, give-it-my-all student, at least in my theater classes, which were the only classes I cared about (I still crammed for those too, though).

Many times I’ve thought back to being a student and wished I’d taken advantage of the time before Real Life came along.  But life has taken me forward not back and I’ve been a teacher instead, homeschooling our kids, setting the goals and checking the assignments.

One of the benefits of homeschooling is a benefit solely for me (actually it bounces back to them as well).  As a student I didn’t treasure the process of learning new information about the world, but as I teacher, learning through the eyes of my children, I’m now a sponge absorbing history and math and books I missed the first 20 years of my life.  I didn’t learn that in school, I learned it as a teacher.

As summer approached I started looking around for writing and art classes for me.  After looking at local art classes, I ended up signing up for two of Carla Sonheim’s online art classes.  And even though the kids have sat beside me working on the assignments as well, I’ve savored the summer gift of being the student.

It turns out I’m a much better student at almost 35.

Imaginary Creatures-A class taught by Carla Sonheim

Each day included one warm-up, one drawing assignment, and one painting assignment, along with two videos from the teacher to watch before the assignments (one of the many good things about an online class, you can watch these videos as many times as you want).

In one week we did contour and blind contour drawings, one-liners and scribble warm-ups, two different charcoal techniques, watercolor, gesso, texture work with colored pencil, markers and more charcoal.

Day 1-Learning to keep our hand loose and our eye working closely with the pen.

(the 9 year old, below)

One the first day we also found Imaginary Creatures through “blobs”, which were layers of transparent watercolor created with a wet on dry technique.

(the 9 year old, below)

(the 11 year old, below)

Day 2-Continuing to loosen the hand and the imagination through blind contour drawings and charcoal.

(Doing the drawing exercises at a local toy store) 

(the 11 year old, below)

We also drew abstract lines of red, blue and yellow and then found Imaginary Creatures within those lines.  Stage one of a several step process.

(the 9 year old, below)

(the 11 year old, below)

(my blobby guy, I didn’t like him at first)

Day 3-Charcoal

(the 11 year old, below)

(my bird, below)

Day 4-Continuing the process of the Imaginary Creatures with color and gesso.

(9 year old, below)

(11 year old, below)

(beginning to like my blobby guy a little more, below)

The Final Day: Adding Texture and Charcoal Shading to our Blob Creatures and Imaginary Creatures.

(the 9 year old, above and below)

(the 11 year old, above and below)

(the happy blobby guy, I’ve decided I love this day by day process that feels a little bit like making magic each time we added a new layer)

Pop over to my other blog to see more of our artwork from this past week.

I reviewed another class by Carla Sonheim here, originally taken by my husband and kids back in February.

To read about her book, which we love, click here.

She has a new book coming out called Drawing and Painting Imaginary Animals.

We would love for you to join us next week as we take Carla Sonheim’s next class, Faces 101-create one hundred and one faces using many different mediums over the course of the week. She has two more week long classes coming up in August, check out her website for more information.


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