With a lot of hemming and hawing on my part and a lot of urging on Eric and Johann’s part, I started taking art classes again. Eric received an email to Yale Peabody Museum members about the scientific illustration program the museum created with Connecticut Natural Science Illustrators. Classes would be held at the Yale Peabody Museum Community Education Center at the Yale Campus. Eric suggested I sign up for some classes to see how I liked scientific illustration. I was worried about the money, but also whether or not I would do well. I hadn’t taken regular art classes since I was 10. I’ve done some things on my own now and then, but nothing spectacular. However, my desire to develop my drawing skills won out in the end.
Because I obviously love butterflies so much, the first scientific illustration class I signed up for was the one about butterflies. A few years ago, I drew the butterflies for my business logo. My favorite drawing is the yellow swallowtail. But since I drew it freehand, it didn’t turn out perfectly symmetrical. After the 4 class series, I now know how to improve future drawings. I also feel better about my yellow swallowtail drawing. It may have mistakes, but it is where I was at the time. One of my classmates said it was still good and “wants to be framed”, not kept hidden in my sketchbook. My drawing now sits happily in a frame on a small easel on one of the living room bookshelves.
We measured real butterflies and drew one half as exactly as possible onto tracing paper. Then we folded the tracing paper on the halfway mark and traced our drawing on the back of the tracing paper. When you open the folded paper, voila! Symmetrical butterflies. From there the drawings could be transferred to paper or overlaid with mylar and colored in with colored pencil. I only completed 2 outline drawings and one colored drawing during the class, but I have more butterflies I can draw on my own and a good resource for future supplies.
My second class just ended about two weeks ago. This class focused on graphite and drawing basics. The main focus of the class was drawing exercises to practice different techniques, which we then applied to a few drawings. The subjects seemed simple at first: a pile of rocks, a head of garlic, a shell. But these drawings quickly became very complicated once we started to really see the objects with all the shadows and highlights. My two best drawings out of the class were of the rocks and the shell. I hope they decide to offer a more advanced graphite class in the fall.