Tracey Morgan visited Glasgow for #GSASummerSchool 2016 to attend three week-long courses at the Glasgow School of Art. She has written about her experiences on the courses and shared images of her work here.
The courses Tracey attended were:
Life Drawing: An Introduction to the Human Figure with Abdi Adam
Experiments in Paint and Print with Cathy Campbell
Life Drawing & Painting Workshop with Donald Sutherland
10 Years ago I spent 3 days in Glasgow as part of a longer holiday mainly based in England. I visited the Glasgow School of Art and it was one of the highlights of my trip. I also saw a lot of amazing art during my brief stay in the city and noted most of what I loved was from ex GSA students. I felt so inspired by the school, the artwork and the city, I made it a goal to return. Actually, it was more like one of those dream scenario fantasies that I didn’t put much stock in until I discovered that the GSA did a Summer School programme.
So I decided where better to spend part of a cold New Zealand winter than in the tropical summer city of Glasgow and booked 3 weeks in the Summer school programme – the weather didn’t do much to outshine Wellington’s winter, but the classes exceeded my expectations.
My first week was spent in Life Drawing with Abdi Adam. I have done a little life drawing in the past but I was quite rusty for sure. My first drawing off the easel was shocking, well the rust certainly showed haha– but this is often the case when you first start back in life drawing after a break. The 5 days with Abdi took us though a variety of tasks and techniques that allowed us to build on our skills a little at a time. So we weren’t overwhelmed with having to achieve line, tone and structure all within one day, but we got to that (and more) in the end.
Our first day was about how we stand at the easel and make our marks – we did a large amount of drawing with poses ranging from 30 seconds to 15 minutes. Concentrating on things like gesture and movement. The days that followed had a similar pattern starting with fast poses moving to longer but each day we would add to our skill base while considering form or tone or proportion etc. By Friday we worked on longer poses and completed sketches that were more comprehensive, tying together all the considerations from the weeks practice. Abdi was a great tutor he had a really great way of explaining things through demonstration with a little theory as well.
Week 2 was Experiments in Paint and Print with Cathy Campbell. I chose this class because I wanted to have a little fun and develop a playful approach to art for the week. It proved to be just that, so it was a great choice. The theme for the week was ‘Layering, Matter and Meaning’. The first few days were focused on drawing techniques and tips for creative methods of how we draw (continuous lines, no dominant hand, blind drawing etc.) and other considerations like composition, scale and some colour theory. We also sought inspiration from our surroundings. The second part of the week we learnt different forms of print making. I hadn’t done any print making since school, and while I’ve always loved the result of lino printing, I remember at school it being very difficult because of the nature of the lino which made it challenging to cut. There is now an easier product available so the physical nature to making the marks is much easier to control with less likelihood of making mistakes. I loved that I can do this at home and combine it with other artistic styles, so I am looking forward to a mixed media approach to my painting incorporating printing as well. Cathy was great fun, a really enjoyable teacher with a lot of skills and a very inclusive approach.
The prints I made were based on the final life drawing I had made the week prior in Abdi’s class.
My final week was Life Drawing and Painting Workshop with Donald Sutherland, I always knew it would be challenging and it certainly was (the course information said it was aimed at advanced students). However, I wanted to make the most of my last week at GSA and felt like this would be a great class to extend my life drawing skills as well as learning more about paint (in particular oil painting which I am very inexperienced with) so I approached the week with a focus on learning rather than results and although it sometimes felt like I was learning a new language, I do believe I made some progress and learnt some skills to carry forward into my painting. For the first 2 days we did life drawing. The class was quite different in approach to Abdi’s class, so that was really interesting to me. We produced fewer drawings but we had a lot more conversation about what we were doing. There was some cross-over, but it was fascinating to learn from another perspective. Some new things for me to consider were, looking at curves from each side of the model, relative lines and directional flow. On the 3rd day we started using paint to explore paint: warm and cool colours, lighter vs darker and whether colour is more or less intense. The approach to painting was different from anything I’d ever done before. Where I tended to ‘draw’ the subject and then paint in the detail, with this approach you looked for areas of colour, you applied it…you found another area, you applied it etc. and so on. You asked yourself questions continuously, is this colour lighter or darker, warmer or cooler etc. The paint moved with your attention to the detail and the painting itself developed by adding one colour into context with another, by finding the relative angles and connecting points etc. The last 2 days we spent painting one pose but building it in the same method as the experimental day prior. I was pleased I took this class, it wasn’t easy but it was a real opportunity for growth. I would like to continue to practice to paint in this fashion back home in New Zealand.
To me this was the perfect holiday. I got to play, and to paint, and to hang out with lovely people. I spent a decent amount of time in a really wonderful city and saw a little more of Scotland in the weekends. The Con-Ed team went out of their way to make Summer School students feel welcome and supported. I hope to return again.