The rope thing did make sense once he demonstrated it and it's actually quite brilliant, functioning as a sling for your drawing board. It's a cheap way to let you draw anywhere comfortably and hands-free without a costly and bulky easel. The rope is fed through the clips that hold your paper and than over your shoulder around to the other side of the board.
He provided us with torn and crumpled pieces of paper which caused an interesting texture on our first drawings. I love that teach encourages us to repurpose and recycle: instead of spending money on costly drawing paper, we are encouraged to bring recycled paper bags and kraft paper.
We began by shading the pieces with charcoal and blending it with both a piece of paper towel and a piece of kraft paper torn from the corner to learn how each blends. The model was illuminated with high-key lighting to emphasize the lights and darks of her face. Then we erased the light areas of her face with a kneaded eraser to create a general guide for her features.
Charcoal pencils served as our measuring tools. This part was tricky and awkward; with so few people it was weird to hold up the pencil and squint. It was quite awkward in general actually. Whenever we would look at the model she would look at us and flash a nervous smile, so I didn't look too often.
We learned that less is more when drawing a portrait, that it's better to have fewer lines and to not concentrate on details. This was the most difficult part for me, being a perfectionist. I erased a lot and had to rush at the end to create a "finished piece" (to Rage Against the Machine). I expected to begin with 30 second timed drawings or to simply concentrate on light and dark values but he threw us into it in order to gauge where we are. In that respect, Agent P. and I were glad that it was just the two of us.
Another great tip learned: to yoga breathe as you draw. Breathing from your belly puts less stress on your shoulders and arms, drawing endurance!
JT was very supportive and was surprised that neither of us had taken a drawing class before (my internal sensor scoffed at this!). He encouraged us to sign our work and was excited to provide the hold on to our first portrait. As scary as it was, we both enjoyed the class and are looking forward to next week. In the meantime we will be working on noses, drawing each other's and ones from magazines. And I will be mindful of not aging the model by twenty years, I have a thing for skeletal faces.