We love our Whitley Bay shop and being part of the surrounding community. It’s a lovely space and it’s great to open its doors after hours for creative and artistic purposes. For the past three Tuesday evenings it has been wonderful to play host to the hugely talented Whitley Bay artist Aissa Tyley and her Cultivart Drawing Skills class.
Cultivart offers courses in Whitley Bay “to develop artistic skills, to nurture existing talents and to guide those who want to take their practice further”. For Paul, to have this opportunity within the shop was one not to miss. He always loved art at school and a few years back was secretary of a local art group based within North Shields Linkskill Centre. However work/life balance meant that had to drop by the wayside and he has always meant to re-engage with his love of drawing - cue Cultivart.
The three week drawing skills course attracted a lovely group of artists of all levels. From those who have regularly attended groups and classes over the years, to those like Paul wanting to get back into drawing and someone who has always wanted to draw but just never has the time to do it. And for Paul it was lovely to reconnect with someone he first met at an art class nearly twenty years ago. Aissa made sure we were all comfortable and supplied the group with hot and cold refreshments and plenty of most welcome biscuits, always a fine companion to the artist.
From previous art classes it can be quite a task when you have students of all levels in one group and can be quite an intimidating experience if you haven’t put pen or pencil to paper in many a year. No need to worry about that here as Aissa instantly puts you at ease with a great exercise where through the medium of drawing you get to know the group around you. It really made everyone feel relaxed and added to the warm atmosphere. You wouldn’t think that by drawing someone’s lips that you would discover their aversion to the taste of tripe!
Further exercises really got the group into the artistic zone and for the more established drawer to take you out of your comfort zone. This was a perfect way to begin as it puts everyone on the same level doing something new and there is nothing to judge against as all new for everyone. Drawing the person next to without having to take your pencil off the page commanded more skill and concentration that you would think and it was great to see everyone’s attempts. These exercises really helped to focus you on the medium you enjoyed drawing in the most and identifying what your particular style of drawing was. Aissa was fab at walking round the table ensuring that everyone was comfortable with what they were doing and starting to get a picture of each students individual style.
The main exercise of the first week was using the drawing medium of your choice, pencil, pen, ink or charcoal and putting the skills learnt in the initial exercises into drawing the face of one of the students in the group. This is where everyone went totally into the zone and you could see he concentration on our faces (something which was captured in many of the drawings). Aissa offered great advice and guidance to each of us where she saw we needed it and really encouraged you with the drawing you were producing. In the bat of an eye, the ninety minutes where over but all of us had totally been in the zone throughout and we all thoroughly enjoyed showing up our portraits to show each other. What is the sign of a great art class is how the students all encourage each other and are genuinely supportive of each person’s efforts. We all looked forward to week two.
Aissa had really given thought about the structure of each session and how to move us on further each week. For week two it was a case that we were all about to engage in a spot of “Ready Steady Cook” or Aissa had been to Tom Owens fruit and veg shop for some still life subjects. Paul has always had a love of using a fine liner pen in drawing and thoroughly enjoyed capturing the shape, shading and fine detail of an mushroom and onion and it just goes to show that if you enjoy drawing you can utilise anything around you to use as a subject. This is something that run through all the sessions that we were all enjoying what we were doing.
Aissa loves keeping us on our toes with trying new things and from the detailed study of fruit we found ourselves armed with felt tipped pens and creating fabulous multi coloured twirls and scribbles and then using a wet brush creating amazing effects by going over the lines. This was great fun and we all loved again doing something totally new. We had all brought photographs with us to the session and used these to put into the practice the skills we had learnt this far. Very aptly Paul chose one of our most recognisable landmarks, Gateshead's the Sage as his subject.
We were all quite sad that we had come to our last week of drawing skills but felt very happy that in such a short space of time had made real developments with our either established or newly found drawing skills. We continued with our projects from last week and it was lovely to see the confidence that had grown in everyone’s drawing style. For Paul it has been such a joyous return to something he loves doing and to be able to do this in our own shop with such a lovely group of people was a wonderful way to spend a Tuesday evening in Whitley Bay. Running your business is all consuming, we love it to bits but it was just lovely to have a little bit of time with the mind focused on something totally different. Aissa was a brilliant tutor who genuinely wanted us all to enjoy the experience and nurture the skills we all have to be able to produce a finished drawing.
If you are looking to develop your skills as an artist, meet new people and totally switch off from the outside world then Cultivart is most definitely something worth investigating. Keep an eye on our facebook page to see when the next class is available to book...