“Bring some pencils and paper and learn how to do portraits in a fun and relaxed way, whilst enjoying a drink from the bar.”
I thought so too!
Despite lacking in art skills (my designer of a brother inherited all of the creative and artistic flair in our family), I thought this sounded like a fun get together with friends. I like to think I can draw a little bit – at least stick men… there’s always room for improvement! – and I enjoy having a good old natter and a refreshing drink with friends, so what better way to spend my Tuesday evening after a hard days work!
The Pulpit café bar at The Gate Arts Centre in Cardiff was packed. Drink and Draw had drawn quite the crowd and the room was buzzing with conversation among old friends and new, so we squeezed onto a bench to join in with the others. Everyone had brought their own art equipment. I had my watercolour/sketch book, pencils and colouring pencils, whereas others were equipped with charcoal, rendering pens and more. There were all abilities in the room, from the novice artist like me, to the more experienced Picasso-esque individuals who obviously knew how to find their way around a blank page. All in all, it was set to be an enjoyable evening and the drinks were surely only going to make the artwork all the better!!
So once settled with our drinks at hand, the art class began. The teacher, Rachel Rasmussen, holds art courses at The Gate too. She was vibrant and bubbly as she talked us through the basics of drawing a portrait using her easel next to the bar. And she was great!! I have never been able to draw a portrait before, but my attempt tonight actually resembled my friend, so Rachel’s knowledge and skills were clearly starting to rub off on me and she obviously knew her stuff about art, having been an artist for six years.
Rachel guided us through portraiture from sketching the initial shape of the face to filling in with the features, using the unsuspecting bar man as her muse. We were taught how to draw eyes, noses, mouths and ears in proportion to the face and Rachel emphasises that to learn to draw, you really need to focus on looking at what you’re drawing. This led to a few laughs throughout the night as we were drawing each other simultaneously, so every time I looked down at my sketch book, I received a telling off from my friend who had not finished drawing my eyes yet and vice versa!
However, once the basic features were all in place, we were then faced with the task of adding depth, texture and shadow to our art work to turn it into a real masterpiece. It was all going well when I was adding some shading to my drawing until I accidentally gave my friend a crazy-looking eye. It turned an okay illustration into something out of a horror film. With one pupil far bigger than the other, she was starting to resemble a zombie. But it didn’t matter – What are good friends for if not to create offensive depictions of each other!! Anyway, I was there to learn and improve, and let’s face it, there was (and still is) plenty of room for improvement. So although I had made my friend look like a crazy-lady in my sketch book, I was given tips on how to improve it and she soon started to look a little more human again.
Looking around the room, there was certainly some talent, whether already known or just discovered. I was blown away by the skill of some people in the class and also reassured that I was not the only complete beginner there. Some pictures looked just like their real-life counterparts, yet others, like mine, looked a bit like cartoon characters instead.
After an hour or so, we took a short break to allow us to get more drinks from the bar to fuel our creativity. However, we were all having so much fun trying to perfect our drawings that most of us stayed put and carried on sketching whilst gossiping about our day, and work, and life in general. These pictures were really starting to take shape now!
So now we knew how to draw faces in portrait, after the break it was time to have a bit of fun with caricatures. A brave volunteer put herself forward to be Rachel’s muse (much to the relief of the unsuspecting bar man!), taking a seat by the easel at the bar. As Rachel talked us through the principles of creating a caricature, she began sketching on her easel and the form of this girl with exaggerated features started to take shape. Rachel encouraged us all to have a go of drawing her too, which turned into a bit of a competition to see who could create the funniest and best caricature. The results were diverse, quirky and funny all at the same time and the prize for winning was just as random – an orange!!
We then had time to create caricatures of our friends. This could have turned out very badly, but luckily my friend found hers hilarious and took it well. Her version of me was funny too. Just look at my eyebrows!!!
The Drink and Draw class lasted about two hours, which flew by! Lots of people came on their own and it felt so welcoming and friendly. I’d definitely recommend giving it a try if you’re up for a fun night out! We were having such a good time we barely looked at the clock once and I can’t wait for the next session. I think I might even sign up for the six week art course with Rachel when it starts again in the autumn.