It's a bit of a long haul thereafter, though: 90 mins to Farringdon and then a brisk 20 min walk, albeit through interesting streets, dappled and leafy so early on a hot summer's morning. I spent the train journey sketching, embarrassed, as usual, that someone might "catch" me drawing them. I also drew a little on my iPad, but that made me *really* self-conscious, as the screen can't really be missed. It's very heavy too; what with all the art equipment I'm lugging around, I might just take the iPod tomorrow.
After all, Item said that the elm tree* I drew on its tiny screen the other day "looked real", bless her.
Once I'd got over the fact that Google Maps took me down the wrong street, I located the art school right on the corner of Theobald rd, and entered a vaulted hall with wooden steps, tiled floors and a real Arts and Crafts feel to it. It was heaving with all the summer school students for every course; almost all were young women. A bloke whose voice wasn't loud enough was shouting out course names and telling students which room to go to. What with the city location and the tattered corridors and the hustle and bustle, I couldn't help thinking it was a bit like Fame. "Well, right here is where you start paying... in repeats".
Our room is a vast white studio with massive tables and stacking bright chartreuse chairs. We sat and waited for the tutor, while I looked around and felt very uncomfortable as I realised I was the oldest student by a good 15 to 20 years. Fortunately, as the tutor entered, she brought with her another student of about my age.
We introduced ourselves with a quick run-down of our experience. I think every other student in the class is foreign: Japanese, Dutch, Brazilian. Some are taking their BAs in fashion design, some have just finished similar degrees. The woman who's my age (German, maybe?) is a fine artist hoping to switch career paths. When I told my hopes to escape a desk bound job with forays into textile design, the tutor laughed and said once I knew what it involved, I might not be so keen! The implication was, I think, that there are hundreds of proper graduates every year - not just dilettantes doing a five-day summer course- hoping to make it big. Who am I to challenge them? But I comfort myself thus: the tutor (a likeable no-nonsense woman with dark skin and a dramatic architectural ponytail) revealed herself to be quite old school as the day went on. She's not hot on computers and doesn't work digitally at all. Therefore I'd assume that the online revolution of small craftspeople selling online has passed her by to a large extent. Having said that, she mentioned her time before she was a tutor, in her own business, and e hard graft of the actual production line. I think that's something we haven't yet considered adequately.
We spent some time in the luscious library, finding inspiration for our chosen theme and making photocopies. Then we returned to the studio and stuck up all our visuals to create "mood boards". My chosen subject is rain, water, clouds. I hope it will be enough to sustain me for a week. We started sketching once we had all our inspiration in place up on the wall. The tutor came by and told me to loosen up- she was talking about my line, of course, but it's good advice for all areas.
So home now- tomorrow will be more hands-on and there's promise of us learning techniques. We have to have a collection of five designs on our chosen theme by the end of the week.
*I got home from work on Friday to find the tree outside our house "ringed" (a ring of bark removed and the trunk below scored) and a big yellow sign tied to it, saying not to park there today. I am expecting it not to be there on my return home tonight, which I am a bit peeved about, as there was no prior notice, and this is the tree you see if you are lying on your back on our bed, and the tree that houses the birds you will hear from there, too. Apparently, our street has the longest run of elms in Europe. But now one less.